Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Trust to take over Northern Ireland crisis helpline

A frontline facility in the fight against suicide is to be taken over by the Health and Social Care Trust.

Lifeline, Northern Ireland’s crisis helpline for people in distress or despair, will be delivered by the Belfast Trust from the start of April.

Until now, the service has been run by independent counselling service Contact NI, but after the end of March no non-statutory provider is available.

The Public Health Agency, which commissions the service, explained: “We pursued a range of procurement approaches available to us which would have enabled the selection of a suitable service provider with experience in the field of mental health and helpline provision.

“It has not been possible to appoint a non-statutory sector provider through this process. Instead, the PHA is able to confirm that all necessary arrangements are being made to transition the Lifeline service across to Health and Social Care (HSC) for an interim period, with effect from 1st April 2018. Belfast Health and Social Care Trust will take the lead on behalf of the HSC in delivering this service.”

Under the new arrangement, frontline staff delivering the service will transfer to Belfast Trust and the facility will continue to work under the same model.

A spokesperson said: “In delivering the Lifeline service, the PHA and the wider HSC will work to ensure that when anyone across Northern Ireland contacts Lifeline, they will receive the necessary level of support they require.

“The further development of the Lifeline service remains a key priority for the PHA in the fight against suicide and self-harm both now and in the future. Lifeline will continue to deliver a high-quality 24/7 service for people in distress or despair and will remain available on 0808 808 8000.”

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