A special conference aimed at rallying local support for a new Civic Forum for the district has been described as ‘extremely positive’ by the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Councillor Elisha McCallion.
Organisations from across the North West gathered in the Guildhall to give their views on how issues connected to alcohol, drugs, emotional wellbeing, suicide prevention and homelessness should be handled through a new joint approach.
Led by the Mayor, the new Civic Forum will be tasked with coming up with a strategic approach which will draw on the expertise of a range of local partners from the community, voluntary, statutory and business sectors.
Speaking after the ‘Every Connection Matters’ conference, the Mayor said: “I was so encouraged today by the level of support voiced for the new Civic Forum and the momentum behind the establishment of an effective support network for vulnerable members of our society.
“We have a wealth of groups dedicated to tackling these issues who play an invaluable role in our communities. We want to channel these efforts in a very strategic and effective way and come up with a new approach which will make the most of the many resources we have on the ground.
“While the Civic Forum replaces a number of fora which have been in operation in recent years, including the Derry Civic Alcohol Forum, the Strabane Civic Drug and Alcohol Forum and the Derry Civic Homelessness Forum, the new body will now draw on the findings of these previous bodies to inform new approaches going forwards.”
Speaking on behalf of the Public Health Agency, Brendan Bonner said: The new Civic Forum will offer the opportunity to develop improved strategies on a broader scale though the new council’s Community Planning process and to instigate change where it’s needed most.”
The feedback from local organisations collated from the conference will now form part of the blueprint for the forum, and a number of further meetings will take place moving forwards.
Derry City and Strabane District Council and Derry Healthy Cities will help facilitate the new forum which will commit to meeting at least three times a year to develop new strategies and actions targeting some of the most difficult social issues.