Mayor urges people not to suffer in silence as pandemic continues

The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Michaela Boyle, has encouraged the public to avail of support services and not to suffer in silence as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Derry City and Strabane mayor Michaela BoyleDerry City and Strabane mayor Michaela Boyle
Derry City and Strabane mayor Michaela Boyle

Mayor Boyle said that the current situation can cause a lot of anxiety, and that people shouldn’t be afraid to speak to someone.

“This is a time of real uncertainty for us all, and it’s important that everyone looks after their mental health as well as their physical health. Everyone should be assured that it’s OK to ask for help.

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“Self-isolation and social distancing is a tough situation for us all to handle. It can lead to people feeling alone, particularly when you are separated from your family and close friends.

“Another issue is the rise in domestic violence that can come with victims being in close quarters with their abusers.

She added: “No matter how you’re feeling or what you’re dealing with, there is always someone ready and willing to listen. We have some incredible local and national charities with qualified and empathetic people who can provide you with a listening ear and any advice you need.”

One of the Mayor’s chosen charities is the Koram Centre in Strabane which provides counselling, psychotherapy and psychosocial support.

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Adrian Loughrey, Koram Centre manager, said: “It is clear that the current situation may be difficult to deal with, causing uncertainty and heightened feelings of stress and anxiety for many.

“I feel it is important to emphasise that in many ways these are understandable and to be expected. It is important for people to be kind and caring towards themselves and others and to take steps to look after their emotional health and wellbeing.

“These can include staying in touch digitally with friends and family, trying to get some exercise, looking after your diet and getting enough rest and sleep.

“The Koram Centre is doing all we can to support clients during this difficult time through telephone and online support and we are here to assist individuals who feel they need further support.”

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The Mayor’s second chosen charity is Foyle Women’s Aid which focuses on eliminating domestic abuse and sexual violence through raising awareness and preventive educational advice and support.

Marie Brown, Director of Foyle Women’s Aid, said: “Domestic violence incidents still continue, and we expect to see a rise in incidents, but the team at Foyle Women’s Aid is working very hard to ensure that we have services here for women and children, and continue to keep them safe.

“With tensions high in self-isolation, we know that victims will be suffering and afraid to step forward. We want them to know that if they ring our numbers, they will still get a response from Women’s Aid. We are aware that social distancing and self-isolation will increase the levels of coercive control, but it is important for victims to know that help is available and there is someone at the other end of the line to talk to”.

You can reach Foyle Women’s Aid by calling 028 71 416 800 or visiting You can also call the 24-Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Helpline (run by Nexus) on 0808 802 1414.

For more information on the Koram Centre, visit