Lifeline plans ‘put lives at risk’, Larne charity warns

Asda has donated �1036.92 to PIPS Larne, as part of the store's ongoing commitment to supporting the community. Colleagues at the Larne store are pictured donating the funds to representatives of the charity.  INLT 44-652-CON
Asda has donated �1036.92 to PIPS Larne, as part of the store's ongoing commitment to supporting the community. Colleagues at the Larne store are pictured donating the funds to representatives of the charity. INLT 44-652-CON

Larne suicide prevention charity PIPS has urged local politicians to show their support for the under-threat counselling service Lifeline.

A campaign to protect the crisis response helpline for Northern Ireland has been launched, following proposals by the Public Health Agency to restructure the service.

Carlee Letson of PIPS Larne fears the proposals could effectively “downgrade” the service and ultimatelyultimately “put lives at risk”.

And she is calling on elected representatives to take a stand against the plans by throwing their weight behind the ‘Protect Lifeline Campaign’.

Carlee told the Times: “Lifeline is a vital service which is available to offer counselling to people of all ages, 24/7, in confidence.

“PIPS Larne often refers people on to Lifeline for support, but these proposals by the PHA will severely impact the service and could put lives at risk.”

In an effort to rally local elected representatives behind the campaign, Carlee has lobbied local DUP representatives including East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson and MLA Gordon Lyons.

“I had a very constructive meeting with local political representatives and called on them to get behind this important campaign.

“I was encouraged by their response and hopefully, with their backing, we can help prevent Lifeline from being undermined.”

East Antrim MLA Gordon Lyons said he would be spearheading an initiative to identify the issues faced by people locally, particularly young people.

He added: “Carlee highlighted the issue of young people in Larne taking their own lives and asked what elected representatives can do to help.

“I plan to facilitate a workshop and bring together local youth groups and other key stakeholders to identify the main problems, discuss them in detail and look at ways to address them.”

The PHA is urging people to respond to its consultation document of the future of Lifeline before the closing date on November 19.

Visit www.publichealth.hscni.net