Derry & Strabane call for Action Mental Health funding as EU money to end due to Brexit
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The proposal was brought forward by councillor Rory Farrell following a deputation by Action Mental Health prior to the meeting.
The SDLP councillor said: “We got the presentation from Action Mental Health who are a fantastic organisation who do sterling work right across the North for people that suffer with poor mental health. The services they offer, the support they provide is first class and it’s an actual lifeline to people right across this city and district.
“Unfortunately we heard that they’ve got a lack of funding certainty. They could rely on millions of pounds from the European Social Fund but due to Brexit, it is coming to an end in March so they need certainty, they need continuity, they need clarity on how they are going to sustain the excellent services that they have.”
“What we agreed is that we are going to lobby the Department of Health to see if there is further money that can be made available for this very, very valuable service.”
Seconding the proposal, Sinn Féin councillor Christopher Jackson criticised the DUP for backing Brexit.
“In the deputation we did hear about the huge number of people that the organisation has been supporting. What wasn’t highlighted is the reasons behind why this organisation and many others across the North are facing very uncertain times and it’s down to policy decisions that are being taken at Westminster.
“It was pointed out at the moment that it is a waste of effort speaking to officials in government departments in Westminster and from our party’s perspective we agree.
“We have seen how many organisations relied on European funding and we saw parties who, rightly so, supported Action Mental Health earlier on in the deputation and yet these same parties campaigned for Brexit with little regard for the most vulnerable people in our community who rely on essential funding and these essential services.”
“We have the parties who earlier supported Action Mental Health but are denying the establishment of an Executive or Assembly where we can invest into our health service, provide the certainty of multi year budgets and have proper strategy to invest in mental health.
“We know the answers are here and we can’t pay lip service to organisations who are providing a lifeline and literally saving lives in our community, to say you are doing a fantastic job yet promote policies that are directly impacting their future.”
People Before Profit Shaun Harkin commented: “We have a huge mental health challenge and Action Mental Health have been trying to address that. As they pointed out they have campaigned for many of the progressive things that have taken place here around the issue of mental health and breaking the stigma and fighting for vital funding.”
“It is the case that Stormont has under-funded mental health for decades and it’s unfortunate right now we don’t have a government we can take the concerns about funding for Action Mental health and other organisations who are helping people and that’s because of the DUP’s boycott.”
“What we have to do as a council is send a clear message that losing workers involved in mental health, the loss of services and the impact that will have on the vulnerable is unacceptable.”
Aontú councillor Emmet Doyle said: “It does have to be said that we do have a Mental Health Strategy and I think it is transformative but it will only have the desired impact if all the mechanism we have, and hopefully we will have Stormont up at some point, will be able to commit the massive resources, £100M a year to transform that service.”
“As much as I know Action Mental Health does fantastic work I would say that a large proportion of it is because people can’t get access to statutory services and I think it is important to point that out.”
DUP Alderman Maurice Devenney responded to previous comments by councillor Jackson.
“Once again I want to go back to Sinn Féin,” he said. “They know the issue around funding and they know the issues around Brexit but let me remind you, I remember from my time living in the Republic of Ireland before moving into Northern Ireland that Sinn Féin were totally opposed to joining the EU and now they are the people that endorse it so now who is talking out of both sides of their mouth?”
The proposal passed unanimously.