Almost 300 receive help with addiction issues

Kerry Anthony CEO Depaul, which runs Foyle Haven.
Kerry Anthony CEO Depaul, which runs Foyle Haven.

Almost 300 people living in the west have received help with addiction-related issues through a project aimed at reducing incidents of self-harm locally.

The outcomes from the Harm Reduction Service were revealed during a showcase event at the City Hotel in Derry on Friday.

Depaul - which runs Derry’s Foyle Haven centre - hosted the event in the city to show the positive work and achievements achieved to date.

The initiative provides health-related interventions, advice and support to those who misuse alcohol and drugs but are unable to commit to formal treatment.

In lead partnership with First Housing and ARC/Solace, Depaul commenced the provision of support, care, facilitation and harm reduction services in 2013 through a three-year grant from the Public Health Agency.

The grant was given to enable the partnership to provide a low threshold service for those who are struggling with addiction and misusing substances within the Western Trust Area.

The partnership provides services in Derry, Limavady, Strabane, and the rest of the western area.

Over the past 12 months, the Harm Reduction Service has provided support to 292 service users. This has included support to access benefits and access Primary Care.

It has also provided 71 families or carers with information about alcohol/ substance misuse and or referred them to agencies for family services.

A total of 43 service users were referred to specialist accommodation or appropriate housing or hostels, while others were helped with access to mental health services, structured substance misuse treatment services, disability services and employment advice and support.

The event on Friday was attended by local politicians, government officials and industry experts.

Those involved in the project said the grant aid will be in need of renewal in January 2018 when the partnership will be reapplying to the Public Health Agency so that they can continue to provide “this much-needed service in the area”.

Speaking at the event, Depaul CEO Kerry Anthony MBE said: “This programme has made significant strides in helping those on the outskirts of society and left out of other services to access the support that they badly need.

“For many people struggling with substance misuse, of drugs and alcohol, there is a significant chance that they are struggling with homelessness or are at risk of homelessness. The Harm Reduction Service fills a gap that sorely needed filling in the area.”

She added: “The results are in the figures, this partnership between Depaul, First Housing and ARC/Solace is helping hundreds of people to gain access to services, reduce the harm to their physical and mental health and regain control over their lives and wellbeing. It is vital that this impactful service continues.”

The Harm Reduction Services includes one-one professional key working support, health-related support through education programmes and health-related interventions.