Former Minister for Health, Robin Swann (UUP) said he was keen to work with Northlands Addiction Treatment Centre in its efforts to build a new centre of excellence in Derry.
The North Antrim MLA, who held the Health Portfolio at Stormont until last month, visited the organisation’s current premises in the Waterside, on Tuesday evening, to discuss the charity’s plans for a new centre of excellence in the city.
Mr Swann was accompanied by party colleagues Alderman Darren Guy and Alderman Ryan McCready. The three politicians were welcomed to the centre by the Northlands chairman, Roe Butcher.
The visitors listened to a presentation about Northlands’ development plans before spending almost an hour in talks with counsellors and board members.
Robin Swann MLA receiving a briefing from Denis Bradley of the Northlands Treatment Addiction Centre.
Afterwards, Mr Swann said: “The staff and volunteers at the Northlands Treatment Addiction Centre provide an incredible service for people across Northern Ireland. I was delighted to be able to meet with the team and discuss their plans for a new purpose-built centre of excellence.
“Too many people across our communities continue to struggle with addiction issues 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.
“After almost 50 years of supporting thousands of people on the road to recovery, we are keen to work with Northlands in their vision for building a new centre of excellence in the North West.”
Northlands Chairman, Roe Butcher said the visit by Mr Swann and his colleagues was greatly appreciated by the board and staff.
Mr Butcher added: “As the Former Health Minister, Mr Swann is very familiar with the impact of addiction in Northern Ireland. The visit by him and his colleagues was a timely boost to our campaign to deliver the much needed new addiction centre of excellence in Derry.
“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 also commented: “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.
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