Future of street drinkers’ centre thrown into doubt

The Foyle Haven entrance, John Street.
The Foyle Haven entrance, John Street.
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The future of the Derry’s day centre for street drinkers has been thrown into doubt after it emerged funding streams will run out within weeks.

Staff at Foyle Haven Day Centre on John Street said that the funding from the Big Lottery ran out back in November and additional support from the Housing Executive to make up the shortfall and keep the service going will run out at the end of March.

The staff and service users of Depaul are deeply saddened by the planned cessation of this funding, without replacement funds being secured as of yet.

Ms Kerry Anthony MBE, Chief Executive of Depaul.

The Foyle Haven Centre was set up to allow street drinkers to access practical assistance and support to reduce the harm caused by their use of alcohol.

The Centre was established by a group of people from the local community in 2001 and merged with Depaul in 2011.

It has been funded by a cocktail of funding streams, one key funder being the Big Lottery. This funding stream was originally due to end in November 2014 but Depaul negotiated an extension until November 2015, but a further extension is not possible.

Through efficiencies and support from the Housing Executive, Depaul have been able to secure the service in its current state until March 2016.

Ms Kerry Anthony MBE, Chief Executive of Depaul, said today: “The staff and service users of Depaul are deeply saddened by the planned cessation of this funding, without replacement funds being secured as of yet.

“The Day Centre is a key service in the city and we will be doing all we can to secure its future past 2016, but in light of the current funding environment across Northern Ireland, nothing is certain at this time.

“We have known that this funding stream would come to end and have been liaising with a range of funding bodies over the last 18 months in order to seek replacement funds, but to date this has not been possible”.

Foyle Haven has been lauded for its success in limiting the harm to people engaged in street drinking and has also had many beneficial knock-on effects in the community such as improving the image of the city and reducing the strain on local emergency and law enforcement agencies.

The funding from the Big Lottery changed the face of the service in 2009 as it allowed for hours to be extended to provide a more accessible service to those who needed it.

Ms Anthony said: “Foyle Haven has supported hundreds of the city’s most vulnerable and it is our intention to continue to advocate to see this service continue in some manner moving forward.

“The Northern Ireland Housing Executive has met with Depaul and we are in discussions with them about future service delivery. In the interim we will be discussing with the staff team, volunteers and service users at Foyle Haven what the impact of this will mean for them.”

On a daily basis for the past 15 years Foyle Haven Day Centre has served as a sanctuary for men and women with nowhere else to go and Depaul are committed to ensuring its survival to the best of our abilities going forward.