October 1, 2021

A life-saving mental health and suicide project run by Extern in the North-West is set to continue for up to another three years thanks to a generous funding injection of almost £500k announced by Health Minister Robin Swann this week. 

Based in Derry-Londonderry, the Community Crisis Intervention Service (CCIS) offers support to individuals who are observed to be in distress and potentially vulnerable, and who may be at risk of suicidal behaviour. To date the project has recorded a total of 918 interventions with people at risk from suicide and self-harm. 

Launched as a pilot project in 2019, CCIS operates every weekend, from Thursday to Sunday, and offers a non-clinical, community response to individuals experiencing social, emotional or situational crisis. 

This vital funding boost will enable the project to continue this core work across weekends, as well as to develop an expanded programme of wraparound care for individuals engaged with the service. The project will also assist those it has supported to ‘step down’ into accessible counselling and complementary therapy services in the local community, as well as promoting wellbeing and good mental health throughout the region. 

Extern is one of a total of 30 projects which have received funding through the allocation of the first tranche of grants from the Mental Health Support Fund, part of a £24m package of funding made available by the Department of Health in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to support carers, cancer charities and mental health organisations. The Fund is being administered and managed by the Community Foundation NI on behalf of the Department. 

Danny McQuillan, interim CEO of Extern, said: “We are absolutely delighted with this wonderful news which builds upon the fantastic work which has been carried out by the CCIS project in the North-West over the past three years. Since its launch, CCIS has become an impactful and important means of helping reduce suicidal behaviour and deaths by suicide in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area. 

“Earlier this year, the Health Minister very kindly provided short-term extension funding to keep CCIS going, so this latest announcement from his Department of such a generous package of support means we can continue saving lives, and deliver an expanded and enhanced service to more and more people in this area. 

“This funding also ensures that the people of Derry-Londonderry will continue to have a venue where they can receive unconditional support at times of emotional crisis.” 

Mr McQuillan added: “We would like to acknowledge the valued support and input of our previous multiagency and community inclusive project steering group and Derry and Strabane Council over the last three years, and the support we have received from a range of political parties and elected representatives at times when funding was difficult to secure. 

“We also look forward to our continued close working relationship with Foyle Search and Rescue, PSNI and Community Mental Health Teams around the city, who have supported the project over the previous years and continue to be valued partners moving forward.”