A Londonderry suicide prevention centre which was at risk of closure has been given an emergency cash boost by the Health Minister.
The Community Crisis Intervention Centre (CCIS) in the city, operated by the social justice charity Extern, was at risk of imminent closure after Robin Swann had previously confirmed in a letter that his department would not provide further funding.
The Department of Health funded the CCIS in Derry through funding from the confidence and supply deal between the Conservative Government and the DUP until March 31 as a pilot project.
This funding was continued for three months as an interim measure during the pandemic.
Visiting their Derry office on Tuesday, Mr Swann agreed an extension of £32,400 in funding to be allocated to the organisation in order to keep services running for a further three months.
“I hope this funding provides both the breathing space and an opportunity for renewed discussion with stakeholders to try and reach a longer-term funding solution for the initiative,” said Minister Swann.
“The service has shown positive benefits for those clients who are in crisis and I sincerely hope that funding is secured to enable the service to continue.
“It is incumbent on the Council who commission the service to secure a sustainable funding solution going forward.
“I encourage all stakeholders to use this additional period as an opportunity to have those conversations and engage extensively with Extern to identify lasting funding options.”
While the intervention has been praised - it is believed the annual budget for CCIS is around £215,000, leaving a significant shortfall.
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood who is also MP for Foyle welcomed the funding allocation today but warned that it is only a short-term measure.
“Minister Swann visited Derry today and had the opportunity to see firsthand the powerful work that the Community Crisis Intervention Service do in our city and across the North West,” he said.
“This vital service was at risk of closure in a matter of weeks due to funding pressures. I am delighted that Minister Swann has agreed to fund the Service until September, preventing imminent closure.
“As welcome as this relief funding is, we still need to fight to ensure a long-term and sustainable funding solution for this critical service, which currently will not stay afloat past September.
“I will continue to engage with Extern, Derry and Strabane District Council and Executive Ministers to ensure necessary funding is made available.
“It is vital to keep this service going, allowing the fantastic staff and volunteers to continue to save lives and support our most vulnerable.”