Direct democracy pilot in Derry/L’Derry produces report on mental health provision

Direct democracy pilot in Derry/L’Derry produces report on mental health provision

Thu 03 Nov 2022 by Co-operation Ireland

A ground-breaking pilot in deliberative democracy carried out in Derry/Londonderry has resulted in a detailed report outlining huge support for an addiction and detoxification facility in the city.

The findings of the ‘People’s Panel’ held over two days in St Columb’s Hall in May will now be delivered to the Western Trust in a report which is being launched today (Thursday, November 3).

Facilitated by peacebuilding charity Co-operation Ireland in partnership with The Involve Foundation, Sortition Foundation and The St Columb’s Hall Trust, 30 people were selected from Creggan, Galliagh and Shantallow via civic lottery to answer the question, ‘How can mental health be improved for everyone in our area?’

Over two days, they came up with strategies, recommendations, and principles they believed would address the ongoing mental health emergency in the city.

The reports lists 10 recommendations, of which an addiction and detoxification facility with wraparound services attracted 100 per cent support from the ‘People’s Panel’.

The Panel was addressed by Western Trust Chief Executive Neil Guckian and representatives from charities and agencies working in the sphere of mental health.

Mental Health Champion Professor Siobhan O’Neill has provided the foreword to the report, in which she said the community needed support for the work they already did in helping those suffering from poor mental health.

“Statutory mental health services continue to operate under extreme pressure with vital support provided by non-statutory, community and voluntary organisations.

“The importance of empowering those impacted by mental ill health, either directly or indirectly, to identify possible ways of improving their locality cannot be overstated. 

“Citizens, by the very nature of living, working, and socialising where they reside are best place to understand the situation on the ground and recognise ongoing issues. 

“More often than not our citizens become aware of issues before local authorities and can be best placed to intervene with the right support. 

“Harnessing the potential from local people by engaging with them and including them in the decision-making processes leads to better outcomes for those in need.

“This report describes the mental health challenges faced by those within the Creggan, Shantallow, and Galliagh areas of Derry/Londonderry and makes practical recommendations based on the understanding and knowledge of the local community from these areas about how these challenges should be prioritised and assessed.”

Co-operation Ireland CEO Peter Sheridan said: “As society faces increasingly complex problems, new ways of involving people in decision making are essential and projects like Voice Matters and the direct democracy model provide a framework as to how this can be done.

“Mental Health is an issue affecting every community and it is vital everyone has their say in how we tackle this issue. I would encourage everyone to read this report and want to praise everyone who played a part in bringing it together. I commend our partners in the project, and the people from the city who gave up their time to outline their solutions.”

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