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Agencies Pledge Support for New Civic Forum

07 December 2015

A pledge towards the establishment of a new Civic Forum to target the issues of alcohol, drugs, homelessness and mental health has been signed in Derry, led by the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Elisha McCallion.

A number of bodies gathered in the Guildhall to sign a special Charter of Commitment as an important first step in the establishment of the new Forum for the Derry and Strabane area.

The new body will replace a number of forums which have been in operation in recent years, including the Derry Civic Alcohol Forum, the Strabane Civic Drug and Alcohol Forum and the Derry Homeless Forum.

Drawing on the wide-ranging experience and strategies developed through previous fora, the new Civic Forum will harness previous learnings and expertise to develop a new joined up and cohesive approach to tacking associated issues across the district.

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council Elisha McCallion explained: “I am delighted to oversee the signing of this Charter today as it demonstrates the commitment of both Council and key bodies to tackling these issues head on.

“This Civic Forum will be developed further to build on the strong foundations which some of our original groupings have already established in our local communities and will now reflect the needs of the entire new district. I would like to take this opportunity to commend the hard work and very significant successes of the previous fora that served the then Derry City Council and Strabane District Council areas.

“With our new council comes a new opportunity to develop improved strategies on a broader scale though our Community Planning process and to instigate change where it’s needed most.  I look forward to the development of the Forum in the New Year and to the launch of the Forum in March 2016 which will bring together the community, voluntary, statutory and business sectors. 

“As the first Mayor to Chair this body, I want to declare my own commitment to working in partnership with all stakeholders of the new forum, to achieve positive outcomes that improve the health and wellbeing of people in our council area.”

Signatories in the Mayor’s Parlour who pledged their commitment to the establishment of the New Civic Forum included, Derry Healthy Cities, Western Health and Social Care Trust, Council for the Homeless Northern Ireland, Police and Community Safety Partnership, Public Health Agency, Police Service of Northern Ireland, Education Authority NI and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

Seamus Donaghy, Head of Health & Community Wellbeing, Derry City and Strabane District Council said: “We recognise that each of the issues which the Forum seeks to address are major areas of concern in their own right and where appropriate the new Forum may engage elements of work related to a single area. 

“However, for some of our most vulnerable members of society who are impacted by all of these issues, the creation of a new Forum provides us with the opportunity to look at the interface between Drugs, Alcohol, Mental Health and Homelessness and begin to address these issues in a comprehensive and coherent manner, not in isolation.”

The Forum will be facilitated by Derry City and Strabane District Council and Derry Healthy Cities, and will commit to meeting at least three times a year to develop new strategies and actions targeting some of the most difficult social issues.

The new Civic Forum will launch officially in March 2016 at a half day conference in the Derry and Strabane area.