‘Unique’ event showcases multi-agency help

More than two dozen agencies were on hand in Limavady on Saturday to provide a one-stop shop for families and residents to find out what kind of help is on their doorstep.

Those on hand on at the ‘Picnic In The Pool’ event at the Roe Valley Leisure Centre included drugs and alcohol awareness charities and debt advice services.

Mark McChrystal, Family Support Manager at the Dry Arch Childrens’ Centres explained the thinking behind the day long event was two-fold. “We are living through very difficult times and I have been acutely aware this last while just how important families are. We have great families and great strengths and depths in families through generations who all help one another out and make the lives of children richer. What we wanted to do was celebrate that with a fun day,” he said.

“The more serious context here is that in Limavady and Dungiven and throughout the borough there are serious issues to do with self harm and drug abuse and alcohol abuse and, in contrast to Derry if you were on Bishop Street where you would find 15 or so organisations there to help you, many of those organisations work here in the Limavady council area, but many families don’t know they exist. What we are trying to do is let families know not just we appreciate them, but there is help there for them, if they need advice or counselling or whatever else they need.”

Mr. McChrystal said what he is tasked to do is help families resolve their issues without unneccessary duplication.

“The Health Board have commissioned a number of family support hubs across the North West and the one which took the initiative first was the Dry Arch Centre and what they have done is set up a one stop shop. So rather than families go around several agencies they go to one place and my job is to co-ordinate help for families. Typically, say someone has a difficulty with trouble with the police or attending school, rather than someone go and tell their story several different times and rather than have all those different agencies deal with it separately they can, this way they can all act in a co-ordinated way to avoid duplications.”

Limavady mayor, Sinn Fein Councillor Sean McGlinchey said the event was a fantastic effort by everyone involved.

“Without doubt, to have put all this together and for people to have access to all these different agencies deserves a lot of credit. This is a unique event and given the times we are living in it’s fantastic people are able to come along and access these agencies all in the one place. It stands on its own. It’s a unique event and congratulations to everyone involved.”