Long-awaited Crisis Service moves forward

Crisis Intervention (File pic)
Crisis Intervention (File pic)

Derry & Strabane Council has confirmed that it is preparing to appoint a provider for a Crisis Intervention Service for those at risk of suicide and self harm.

It is understood the outstanding £30,000 chunk of the full £130,000 needed to run the pilot 12-month facility has been pledged in principle by a health body.

It is now more than two years since the Council revealed plans to develop a business case for a Crisis Intervention Service, following a grassroots campaign sparked by a succession of tragedies.

The Council, Foyle Search & Rescue and local health authorities had each pledged funding for the project but attracting the remainder of the money needed has proved challenging. It is now hoped the money pledged will be handed over to enable the setting up of the service.

A council spokesperson confirmed to the ‘Journal’ that it is now “in a position to appoint a service provider to establish a Community Crisis Intervention Service upon receipt of committed funds from partner organisations.”

“Council is working closely with its partners to finalise details of the funding package available to finance the project,” she added.

A spokesman for Foyle Search & Rescue Service said yesterday it was “delighted “the project was moving forward.

Foyle MP Elisha McCallion, meanwhile, said there was “huge goodwill in the community towards tackling these issues as each of us have been touched by them”.

In October 2016, councillors approved £40,000 to progress the plans for the pilot service.

Since them, alongside the £40,000 pledged by the council, an additional £20,000 was offered by Foyle Search and Rescue and £10,000 by the Western Health and Social Care Trust. Then earlier this year the Western Local Commissioning Group (LCG) of the Health and Social Care Board approved in principle the allocation of a further £30,000, although this had still meant the project was £30,000 short, until now.

The Public Health Agency and Ulster University, meanwhile, have lent their support for the pilot by providing an evaluation of the service.

Foyle Search & Rescue said it was “delighted to be able to make a contribution” towards such an important service for local people. A spokesman said: “Foyle Search & Rescue are delighted the Crisis Intervention Service is now moving forward. This important service will help us in our role as well in dealing with prevention and mental health crisis.”

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin Foyle MP Elisha McCallion, who made the initial funding suggestion as a councillor back in 2016, said: “This has come about due to a lot of hard work over the last couple of years. I have been very passionate about making this happen along with other people who have all collectively ensured that this did not drop off the radar.

“The next stage will be working with the group who have been awarded the contract to undertake this work to help the most vulnerable in our society.”

The pilot was extended to a year after an initial invitation to tender last July for a six-month responsive community based crisis intervention service received no bids. A revised 12-month tender has since been issued.

The new service is aimed at providing a non-clinical community response to individuals experiencing social, emotional or situational crisis over the weekend period.

The service is expected to reduce pressure on Accident & Emergency and was designed following multi-agency discussions to determine the most appropriate model which would “assist in reducing the incidence of self-harm and suicide.”

A report brought before local councillors previously on the plans stated: “It is anticipated that the pilot service will respond to individuals observed to be in distress and potentially vulnerable and who would in all likelihood come to significant harm through self-harm and suicidal behaviour.”