A new crisis service aimed at providing a ‘safe space’ for people with mental health problems in Derry is just 'weeks' away from being opened, it has emerged.
The information was revealed at a special meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council on Wednesday.
During a discussion on the striking the rates for the coming year, Sinn Fein Councillor and Assembly candidate Elisha McCallion said that she had been working 'tooth and nail for the last 18 months' to establish the new crisis service' and that it was just 'weeks' away from being launched.
Speaking to the Derry News after the meeting, Cllr McCallion said funding had already been secured for the service.
“It is weeks away, I'm hoping it will be opened in April,” she said.
“There are still i's to be dotted and t's to be crossed but we are at an advanced stage.
“We have held advanced discussions with all the agencies involved, the council, the trust, PSNI, Public Health Agency and the community voluntary sector.
“We concluded the business case several months ago and have secured the funding from council and that has been ratified in the rates today.”
Cllr McCallion explained what the service would offer.
"It will offer a safe space for those at crisis point. We have a lot of vulnerable people brought to A&E and they have to wait in public for a long length of time and it's not appropriate," she said.
"The crisis service will offer a safe space with trained workers there to offer support while patients are waiting to be referred to the relevant agency."
Cllr McMcCallion continued that although the service would help, it was not the answer to the current mental health crisis in the northwest.
"As much as this is well overdue and needed it is not the solution to the ongoing crisis," she said.
“Unfortunately not one thing will solve it, but this alongside additional money being secured for mental health issues will be a start.”
The Western Trust was contacted regarding the new service but declined to comment.
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