Health Minister meets with Belfast Alliance for Suicide Prevention
The Health Minister Michelle O’Neill visited North Belfast today (Wednesday Feb 22) to meet with members of the Belfast Alliance for Suicide Prevention (BASP) and hear about local efforts on suicide prevention and emotional wellbeing.
The meeting held at Ashton Community Trust’s Antrim Road offices, formerly known as the Irish School of Ecumenics, was organised so that community groups could informally engage with the Minister on suicide prevention work being carried out across the city and also to hear about developments on Protect Life 2.
Health Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “I had a very engaging conversation with the Belfast Alliance for Suicide Prevention today in North Belfast and it was so encouraging to hear about the really positive work that is being done to support individuals and families that are affected by suicide, self-harm, poor mental health and addictions. This grassroots work is invaluable and I would like to encourage everyone to continue supporting their family, friends and communities who may be experiencing difficulties and encourage them to seek help and support from services provided by local groups and statutory agencies.”
BASP’s lead contact Irene Sherry said: “At the opening of Old See House last November I invited the Health Minister to come and have a conversation with members of the Belfast Alliance to which she agreed for the end of February. So true to her word, the Minister has come out to hear about what we are doing collectively in the field of resilience, emotional wellbeing and suicide prevention and she was really impressed. We were also in a position to update Michelle around plans to develop a transition centre/safe place which would support individuals in emotional distress.
“From experience we know there is strength in learning from each other and working collaboratively. With such a complex issue like suicide we need to connect and learn from those who are working on a daily basis with individuals and families affected by suicide.”
BASP lead contact Stephen Barr added: “We will continue to respond and support those most in need within our communities. Suicide prevention is at the front and centre of this work and this Alliance. We hope to proactively contribute to a fresh and innovative way of working around suicide prevention in Belfast.”
BASP is a significant development in the field of mental health and suicide prevention. It is the result of years of community campaigning and lobbying by groups that are working on the ground to address suicide levels across the city of Belfast. As part of its core programme of work, BASP involves community members lobbying and positively engaging with stakeholders on suicide prevention. It also provides a forum for cross-sectoral multi-disciplinary engagement with health professionals.
Notes to Editors
The event took place on Wednesday 22nd February 2017.
Venue: Ashton Community Trust, 683 Antrim Road, Belfast. BT15 4EG
Main contacts: Irene Sherry mobile 07980 006585 & Stephen Barr 028 9043 5810.