A new campaign has been launched to prevent Derry’s Foyle Haven Day Centre from having to reduce its services due to funding.
A ‘Save Foyle Haven’ online petition has now been launched by Unison community branch to highlight the crisis now facing the service and to gather the support for securing a long-term funding solution.
At present, the service only has funding to run at current capacity until the end of June.
Foyle Haven Day Centre on John Street was created as a service where local street drinkers and homeless people can access practical assistance and support to reduce the harm caused by their use of alcohol.
It was established by a group of people from the local community in 2001 and merged with Irish charity Depaul in 2011.
The centre has been supported by a cocktail of funding streams but key funding has since been withdrawn and a series of short-term, interim rescue packages have since been negotiated through the involvement of Depaul, Derry & Strabane Districtcouncil and other local politicians, staff, union representatives and health professionals.
Talks are ongoing between Depaul and a range of agencies in a bid to address the current issues.
Unison have said that the centre now faces cuts to its services unless £84,875 in additional funding can be secured.
Without the full funding, they have warned, the Haven will have to reduce its daily opening hours and close completely on Sundays.
Unison have warned that unnecessary austerity is increasing poverty, homelessness and mental health issues.
The Community Branch has now called on “the people of Derry and Strabane to back the campaign and sign the petition to fully fund the Haven’s services.”
They also called on “all the political parties; all elected officials; community organisations; trade unions and civil bodies to ensure long term core funding is secured”.
Local Unison Branch Officer Shaun Harkin said: “Foyle Haven provides vital services including meals, benefit support, education and life-saving harm reduction techniques. We know the people of Derry and Strabane want to see the services provided by the Haven protected in full.
“Unison Community Branch is calling on everyone to support the call for long-term core funding.
“Right now, the service has no stability and is surviving on a month-to-month basis.
“This is unacceptable for service users, their families, the dedicated workforce and the wider community. Now is the time for action to ensure the long-term viability of the Haven’s services.”
The petition can be accessed via: www.change.org/p/derry-city-and-strabane-district-council-save-foyle-haven-day-centre
The petition will be handed over to Derry City & Strabane District Council ahead of a forthcoming Full Council Meeting.
A protest was previously held outside the Guildhall in February to highlight the threat to the day centre.