The North Antrim MLA, who held the Health Portfolio at Stormont until last month, visited Northlands’ current premises in the Waterside on Tuesday evening to discuss the charity’s plans for the new facility in the city.
Mr Swann was accompanied by party colleagues Alderman Darren Guy and Alderman Ryan McCready.
They were welcomed by the Northlands chairman, Roe Butcher and listened to a presentation about Northlands’ development plans before spending almost an hour in talks with counsellors and board members.
Afterwards, Mr Swann said the staff and volunteers at the Northlands Treatment Addiction Centre provide “an incredible service”.
“Too many people across our communities continue to struggle with addiction issues,” he said, “and are in need of timely, effective treatment and support.
“Northlands’ vision of a new centre as a beacon of hope, is ambitious and thoughtful. Taking a people-centred approach to treatment and care is right at the heart of Northlands’ approach and is in keeping with ‘Preventing Harm, Empowering Recovery’, which was the Substance Use Strategy I launched as Minister of Health.”
New addiction centre in Derry needed ‘urgently’
Northlands Chairman, Roe Butcher said the visit by Mr Swann and his colleagues was greatly appreciated by the board and staff: “We discussed how the treatment of addiction might be improved in Northern Ireland, and what more Northlands could do to support people on the road to recovery when a purpose built new centre was available.”
Northlands Board Member, Denis Bradley added: “We are very grateful for the interest and support we have received across the board. It’s now long past time to get this project on the ground as it is an alarming thought that every year we spend talking about the new centre, now, another 500 people lose their lives to addiction in Northern Ireland. That chilling statistic is a reminder of the urgency of getting this project ‘over the line’ and getting the new centre built.”
Earlier this month, the British government said it was committed to providing £1million financial support towards the cost of the new addiction centre. The money will be released once a business case from the Department of Health here is submitted and approved.