27 people still alive because Derry charity Foyle Search and Rescue got there on time

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The number of incidents attended to by Foyle Search & Rescue fell from close to 500 in 2018 to 394 last year.

Foyle Search volunteer Pat Carlin said the reduction was welcome but stressed the ultimate goal was no incidents.

Last year 27 people were rescued from the river and there were 164 riverside interventions. Sadly three bodies were recovered in 2019, down on nine in 2018.

“Our ideal goal is zero, zero incidents and zero loss of life. Unfortunately we’ve been out all over Christmas and the New Year searching for a missing person we believe may currently be in the river.

"We’ve been out Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, every single day since, New Year’s Eve, the early hours of New Year’s Day morning,” said Mr. Carlin.

Behind the scenes the charity has been working closely with its partners on the ‘Our Future Foyle’ project.

This is a multi-million pound project designed to eliminate negative perceptions of the river.

“There are big plans there for developing the waterfront. It’s very, very positive overall, and from the public’s point of view. Increased activity and positive activity around the river will take the negative aspects away.”

Mr. Carlin said the city’s pilot Community Crisis Intervention Service (CCIS) which is funded only until March has been doing great work.

“We work very closely with the CCIS and I think everyone’s hopeful at the moment that they will get their funding and it will be able to continue. We’ve worked very closely with them over the past 12 months.

"They’ve been a great help to us. It’s been a great success. Sadly it all comes down to funding similarly to ourselves. We depend totally on the public, £135,000 a year. Everybody is unpaid and if the public didn’t support us we just wouldn’t exist.”

While the number of rescues completed was down the need for the charity and its mission remain as solid as ever.

“We are there every year, year in year out. The 27 people rescued are alive today because we managed to get to them on time.”

*The Lifeline helpline is open 24 hours a day, and anyone of any age living in the North can call the Lifeline helpline for free on 0808 808 8000 if they are experiencing distress or despair.