Social Democratic and Labour Party Leader Colum Eastwood MP has secured a commitment from the British government to provide £1m funding for the Northlands Centre to establish a new addiction treatment facility in Derry.
He was speaking after a Westminster Hall debate on an addiction centre in the city and the delivery of other aspects of the New Decade, New Approach (NDNA) agreement.
Also in attendance were SDLP South Belfast MP Claire Hanna, former Secretary of State Julian Smith and SNP MP Mhairi Black.
Mr Eastwood advocated for the inclusion of a treatment centre in Derry during the NDNA negotiations and said Stormont’s Department of Health must now bring forward a proposal to develop the Northlands Centre.
Foyle MP Mr Eastwood said:
“I welcome clarity from the British government that £1m support will be provided to fund addiction services in Derry. I fought hard to ensure this commitment was included in the NDNA agreement and we have already waited far too long for this money to materialise. We need to see the Department of Health bring forward a business case to develop the Northlands Centre as soon as possible.
“There is not a family in our city, or anywhere in the North that has not been touched by the scourge of addiction. Countless lives have been cut short and families left devastated due to this terrible illness. I have heard so many heartbreaking stories from families who have tried to get help for their loved ones before it’s too late, but have failed due to the lack of treatment options available.
“Facilities like the Northlands Centre are invaluable to our communities, to put it simply, they save lives, but they cannot expand the work they do without the proper funding in place. Substance abuse costs the North around £1.5bn annually, by providing proper funding to centres like Northlands, we can invest in people with significant returns for our health and justice sectors and our society.
“Northlands provides first class care to people from right across the North, for 50 years they have been looking after people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction and provided them with a platform to change their lives. Northlands has shovel-ready plans for a new centre of excellence that would help them expand the crucial work they do, providing lifelines to those in crisis. We need to see the Department of Health recognise that Northlands is best placed to deliver this treatment centre in Derry and support their plans to grow.”