Belfast Telegraph

Friday 30 January 2015

How Comic Relief is helping at home

Zoe Salmon in Belfast to promote the Comic Relief campaign
Zoe Salmon in Belfast to promote the Comic Relief campaign

Every year, money from Comic Relief helps some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people in the world, especially Africa.

But money is also given to people and projects in Northern Ireland. On January 13, with the help of funding from Comic Relief, Health Minister Michael McGimpsey launched the Card Before You Leave appointment system across all the health and social services trusts.

The CBYL system was started up with the help of the Participation and the Practice of Rights Project after a group of families from north Belfast and the greater Shankill area — where the rate of suicide is particularly high — believed that psychiatric patients were not getting the right amount of follow-up care.

One of the group’s project team members is Gerard McCarten.

Gerard's son Danny was just 18 years old when he took his own life. He had pleaded with a community psychiatric nurse to be admitted to hospital. Instead he was told it would take six months to get specialised help. By then it was too late.

Gerard and his wife Carol complained about how their son was treated and it subsequently became the subject of a review instigated by the Secretary of State.

Under the new system, adults and children being discharged from emergency departments, who are assessed as low risk but wish to have urgent follow-up from community mental health services, will be given a card with the date of their next appointment.

This year, Comic Relief is again giving local organisations the chance to apply for grants — this time for their share of a £1m fund raised through Sport Relief.

The Community Cash initiative will distribute £62,500 worth of grants to communities across greater Belfast.

Applications forms are available from the Belfast Telegraph and Community Foundation of NI websites.

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