Connor clergyman the Rev John McClure of Irish Church Missions played a key role in a Stormont seminar on addiction.
The Addiction Awareness and Education seminar, was held in the Long Gallery at Stormont Caslte on November 25, and brought together representatives of the Inter Church Addictions Project (ICCAP) and the Recovery in a Safe Environment (RISE) Foundation.
Many others working in the field of addictions, including politicians and church representatives, were also involved.
Health Minister Michael McGimpsey opened the seminar. He said: “I am only too aware of the significant harm that alcohol and drug misuse causes in Northern Ireland today. Substance misuse impacts directly on individuals, but also has wider consequences for their families, their communities, and for our society as a whole.”
Event organiser Irene Sherry of the Ashton Centre said the seminar was ‘a step in the long journey of breaking the stigma of addiction. Co-host, Frances Black of RISE, stated: “We have come together to publicly create more awareness and education around addiction and also to support families whose loved ones are in addiction or recovery.
“Collaborative partnerships and opportunities to create more public awareness around addiction will play a part in helping to reduce the stigma of addiction which has affected so many families.”
John McClure, who was also instrumental in bringing RISE and ICAP together to progress further collaboration, spoke of the desire to raise awareness of addictions and suicide prevention and the need to develop a purpose-built centre in Northern Ireland.
Speakers at the seminar included: Frances Black (singer, addiction counsellor and CEO of RISE Foundation); Lindsay Conway, OBE (Presbyterian Church’s Director of Social Service and Executive member of ICAP); Dr Diana Patterson, OBE (Consultant Psychiatrist in Addiction) and Stephen Rowen (Addiction Specialist and former Clinical Director of the Rutland Treatment Centre).