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Belfast Healthy Cities

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Healthy Cities 21st Century

Care Zone Report Official Launch

The ‘Care Zone’ Report was officially launched in Belfast City Hall this week, setting out the priorities for addressing poor health indicators in north Belfast, including high levels of suicide. The report was launched by Lord Mayor Cllr John Finucane and among the speakers at the event was Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride.

The Care Zone project formed part of the agreed actions emerging from a suicide prevention workshop which took place in September 2016. The project was established as a community development pilot to tackle poor mental health and reduce suicide in the Sacred Heart Parish in north Belfast, an area with a high prevalence of mental health issues and high suicide rates. The project is led by the Lighthouse Charity and brings together a number of key stakeholders that operate in the area, including statutory, voluntary and community organisations and local residents.

The Care Zone project leader Jo Murphy heralded the publication of the report and highlighted the key priorities.

“Health overall and mental wellbeing in particular in north Belfast was not improving over time, and the workshop event 3 years ago marked a change in the way health and wellbeing services are delivered in this area. Led by the Lighthouse charity the project brings together a number of key stakeholders that operate locally, including statutory, voluntary and community organisations and local residents through a ‘whole area approach’ which promotes cohesive ways of working between all partners.  The Care Zone project has a community development approach at the heart of its operational and strategic actions.”

The report launched today sets out 48 recommended actions including better access to mental health services, a mobile health information facility and an emphasis on transparent decision making.

Chief Medical Officer Michael McBride said, “I applaud the progress made by the North Belfast Care Zone to have a Community Development Approach to suicide prevention. The community led methodology is very much in keeping with the Making Life Better Framework, which seeks to create the conditions for individuals and communities to take control of their own lives.  We want to move towards a vision where all people are enabled and supported in achieving their full health and wellbeing potential and to reduce inequalities in health. Working closely with communities in a co-production approach is essential and something we wish to focus more on during the implementation of the recently published Protect Life 2 strategy for preventing suicide and self-harm.  This is strongly reflected in the Care Zone report and I hope this report will inspire others to create their own “Care Zone.”

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor John Finucane said: “I welcome the recommendations within the ‘Care Report’ and I want to commend Lighthouse and all of the other stakeholders in carrying out this important work. Issues surrounding mental health and the stigma that is often attached to them must be dealt with head on. The health and wellbeing of our citizens is of vital importance and those that find themselves facing hard times must know that it’s ok not to be ok and that help and support services are out there. I look forward to seeing the recommendations within the ‘Care Report’ being put into action, providing key support to those most in need.”

Belfast Healthy Cities is a partner in the Care Zone and produced the Care Zone Health Profile and facilitated the production of the Care Zone Report. The profile statistics were presented at the launch by Chris Karelse.

The Care Zone project has been financially supported by the Public Health Agency, the Urban Villages Initiative and the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.

Video Message from Eamonn Holmes