The Public Health Agency (PHA) is currently holding a 12 week consultation on the future of the Lifeline service, the crisis response service which provides essential support to vulnerable people.
The consultation is being held to ensure that it best meets the needs of people who will require its support over coming years, and to make it as effective and responsive as possible.
The consultation proposals would maintain the 24 hour, seven days a week telephone helpline provided by staff who are skilled and qualified in talking to people in crisis.
The telephone helpline operators would require professional skills and qualifications in listening and in assessing the risk of suicide. They would also have knowledge of the range of support services available to ensure that callers are directed to the most appropriate service for their needs.
In the consultation, the PHA is proposing that the telephone helpline element of the Lifeline service be placed under the management of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS).
Having the helpline managed by the Ambulance Service would strengthen links with other emergency services. The service would be fully integrated with existing community, voluntary and statutory services for people in crisis to enable an immediate and appropriate response for people at risk.
The proposals also include an increase in the number of counselling sessions by up to 27%, a new face-to-face support service for those in immediate need, and new complementary therapy sessions to help people to engage in services and recover.
Details are available on the PHA’s website at www.bit.ly/llconsult The closing date for responses is 19 November at 1pm.