Wednesday, December 21, 2022

The lack of European funding could be ‘disastrous’ for mental health services

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David Babbington said his organization is one of over 50 groups to be affected by the loss of European Social Fund money in March next year.

Mr Babbington said: “We have no idea who could come to the rescue in relation to this funding. We work a lot in the dark.

“I also speak on behalf of the other 51 organizations, the 1,600 employees at risk, but also the 16,000+ people who also serve in these services. What do you do? What will happen to them at the end of this funding?

“These people would be on waiting lists, clogging up the healthcare sector and probably getting worse.

“We are deeply concerned about the safety of our customers.”

10 mental health action centers and hundreds of jobs will be funded with over £2m of ESF funding.

One of these is the New Horizons project in Lisburn, which welcomes around 100 people through its door every day. His manager Michelle Bolton said it was a troubling time.

She emphasized: “If this service does not exist, we will have a hundred customers and more people who still need to be referred to our service without intervention.”

Action Mental Health has spoken to Stormont officials, including the Department of Health (DoH), about the loss of funding.

In a statement, a DoH spokesman said: “The proposed replacement of the ESF, the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, will be held centrally in Whitehall… that the continued funding of these groups is a matter for the UK Government.

“NI departments have been involved since 2016 and will continue to do so.

“The department is working with trusts to assess the potential impact. In addition, trusts have been instructed to develop contingency plans.”

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