Crisis Intervention Service in Derry : Plea for ‘long term’ funding after 11th hour rescue

Derry politicians have called for long-term funding for the city’s crucial Crisis Intervention Service after Health Minister Robin Swann announced he would provide another six months funding to prevent its closure.

It had been warned that funding for the service was due to run out in a fortnight’s time, prompting an online petition and a protest which had been scheduled to take place in the city tomorrow.

The Community Crisis Intervention Service (CCIS) was set up several years ago after a long campaign by families, campaigners and local organisations to help people experiencing a mental health crisis.

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It has been credited with saving dozens of lives in the few short years it has been operating, but has been threatened with closure several times as no long term funding has ever been arranged to secure its long term future.

The Community Crisis Intervention Service was set up after a grassroots campaign for mental health facilities for people in crisis in Derry. DER1815MC159

Local Ulster Unionist Alderman Darren Guy welcomed the announcement by the Health Minister Robin Swann of a further £66,000 funding.

Alderman Guy said: “I recently received notice that unless funding was found by June 12 then the Community Crisis Intervention Service in our City would cease to exist.

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“I was contacted by concerned staff from the CCIS worried that they could possibly loose their jobs.

“The CCIS was created to assist with the growing mental health issues in our Council area and has provided a life saving service to many who have found themselves in need of such assistance. However, securing sustainable funding has been an ongoing issue.

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“The CCIS has helped ease pressures on Altnagelvin Hospital’s Emergency Department, the NIAS, NIFRS and PSNI units who are often the first responders to many incidents of attempted suicide.

“I spoke with the Health Minster Robin Swann on Monday around the possibility of a funding extension to allow the CCIS to continue to operate, by providing a lifeline to the many who feel that there is nowhere else to turn. So it is extremely welcome news that the Health Minister has announced funding to the sum of £66,000 to allow the service to continue in its normal format and in doing so saves any job losses that may have occurred.”

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SDLP Foyle MLA and Chair of Stormont’s All Party Group on Mental Health Mark H Durkan has welcomed Health Minister Robin Swann’s decision to fund the Community Crisis Intervention Service in Derry.

Mr Durkan, who set up a petition recently demanding long term funding for the service, said: “I welcome the Minister’s announcement and his intervention has, effectively, saved this service which itself has saved lives here since its establishment.

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“This will come as a relief to staff but even more so to service users, for whom CCIS has been a lifeline in their darkest hours.

“I would like to thank the Minister, who clearly recognises the value of this project having now twice stepped in to save it. I now appeal to him to identify a stable, sustainable funding model that enable this service to thrive and continue to save lives. No one wants to be back here in six months’ time trying desperately to avoid the service’s closure.

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“The outlook is not good for mental health, demand is growing, waiting lists are spiralling - the closure of this service would not only have reduced the support available to people when they are most vulnerable but would also have compounded hopelessness and despair.

“We fought hard to get this badly needed and sadly needed support in Derry and we will fight any attempt to withdraw it or run it down. Thanks to the people of Derry and beyond who have supported the service and our campaign to save it.”

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Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Karen Mullan also welcomed additional funding but also said a long-term solution is needed.

The Foyle MLA said; “I welcome this funding to keep crisis intervention services open in Derry for a further six months but there needs to be a longer term approach.

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“It is vital that crisis intervention and addiction services are available and they need to be supported and improved.

“A long-term strategy needs to be put in place to make these services sustainable for the future.

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“I will be calling on the health minister to make this a priority so that the service can be available in the north west.”

While also welcoming the funding, People Before Profit Councillor Shaun Harkin said: “This announcement has come as a result of the people power campaign led by CCIS workers, mental health service users and advocates, concerned residents, trade unionists, students and many others.

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“Without the emergency campaign to save the service, Derry’s suicide prevention service would have been closed on June 15. The Stormont Executive up until now had ignored the demand from Derry to protect the service. Service users would have been abandoned. This would have sent a terrible message to the people of Derry and set an awful precedent at a time when many people are facing multiple challenges.

“While we very much welcome the funding announcement, the campaign calls for long-term core funding. We cannot arrive back in a similar situation in another six months.

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“The Health Minister has indicated the CCIS could access the £10m Mental Health Support Fund. It’s vital that the momentum from this campaign and funding announcement is translated into securing the long-term future of the service.

“There is a clear lesson that people power campaigning is absolutely crucial. It’s the only way we will be able to defend public services and win the changes communities deserve.”

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Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Brian Tierney, also warmly welcomed the news that the Department of Health will provide an additional £66,000 funding to ensure the continuation of the Derry Crisis Intervention Service.

Mayor Tierney said Councillors at a Full Council meeting last night had raised concern over the lack of funding for this much needed service and he was delighted that the Minister had stepped up to provide the funding needed to allow the essential service to continue.

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Mayor Tierney said the important role carried out by the Community Crisis Intervention Services in supporting the work being done by the Health Service was more evident than ever before.

“The CCIS works effectively in tandem with our health professionals, alleviating pressures on the health service, and offering a compassionate and caring service for those in immediate crisis whose needs are currently not being met. I am pleased that the Minister has responded to our calls to fund this essential service and hope it gives some stability to the staff and users.”

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“I urge all our partners across the sector to support the establishment of a permanent service here in the North West and as a Council we will continue to lobby for this support over the coming months,” added Mayor Tierney.