Council call for urgent meeting with Depaul over Foyle Haven future

Protesters gathered outside the Guildhall earlier this year calling for a funding resolution to the crisis facing Foyle Haven
Protesters gathered outside the Guildhall earlier this year calling for a funding resolution to the crisis facing Foyle Haven

Derry & Strabane Councillors have called for an urgent meeting with the charity Depaul and others ahead of opening hours being cut at its Foyle Haven day care centre.

The Council’s Health and Community Committee agreed to award £10,000 towards Foyle Haven, which provides services for street drinkers, the homeless and other vulnerable groups.

A further £10,000 has been approved in principal by the local Policing and Community Safety Partnership.

Depaul announced last month that it has been left with no option but to reduce hours of operation after extensive efforts to secure long-term funding failed.

A Council officer told local Councillors at the Committee meeting on Thursday that on average, 30 to 35 people Foyle haven centre every day and that the annual running cost is £274,000. There is currently however a deficit of £85,000. and 2.5 posts at the day care centre are expected to be lost.

Members were asked to consider the potential for a Council contribution and agreed to award £10,000.

The Council officer said that the intention now was to have a meeting in August to look at opportunities to bring potential funders together.

Independent Councillor Darren O’Reilly however said: “I don’t think that is good enough. August is a long way away.”

Sinn Fein Colr. Sandra Duffy added: “I don’t think we can wait until August. I’m very disappointed we have got to this point. This service is going to be diminished for the vulnerable people who need it.”

DUP Councillor Hilary McClintock said that the Council wanted to see the service kept on in the city, and expressed concern that dePaul were reducing the service locally while, according to reports, looking at opening another centre elsewhere in Northern Ireland. “They do have considerable reserves,” she said.

SDLP Councillor Brian Tierney said: “The question needs to be asked: where are these vulnerable people that are used to going to Foyle Haven going to go?”

He also said that following the political stalemate at Stormont, there was now £120m in the coffers at the behest of the Secretary of State and that the Council should write to the Northern Ireland Office outlining the situation with Foyle Haven.

Committee chair, DUP Councillor Drew Thompson agreed with Colr. McClintock that there was an onus on Depaul management.

The Council will now write to Depaul and other agencies to arrange an urgent meeting, while also writing to the Northern Ireland Office.