£200,000 funding for drug addiction and mental health project

The Health Secretary has announced £200,000 in funding for a project to help people with drug addiction and/or mental health problems.


Health Minister Mike Nesbitt pictured with Gary Rutherford against a decorative backdrop

Minister Mike Nesbitt made the announcement on Tuesday during a visit to ARC Fitness, a community-based non-profit addiction recovery organisation based in Derry/Londonderry.

With support from the Department of Health, the Public Health Agency (PHA) will provide funding to ARC Fitness to enable the design, implementation and evaluation of the prevention, early intervention and recovery project.

Minister Nesbitt said:

“Recovery is a key objective of the Northern Ireland Government’s ten-year drug strategy, Preventing Harm, Empowering Recovery. One of the five aims of the strategy is to empower and support people in their recovery journey by tackling stigma, reducing barriers to seeking treatment and supporting the development of recovery communities.

“ARC Fitness’ work highlights the role that physical activity and fitness can play in helping people recover. That’s why I’m delighted to announce that, with the support of my ministry, the PHA will fund such an innovative project. I’m confident it will meet the needs of individuals, families and communities affected by complex trauma and vulnerabilities in a way that fosters compassion and hope.”

Welcoming the funding, Gary Rutherford, Founder of ARC Fitness, said:

“We are delighted with this news announced today by the Minister. It is with deep gratitude that we would like to thank the Department of Health and the Public Health Agency for their generous funding for our essential and vital service.

“This support will allow us to continue our mission of promoting health, well-being and hope, making a meaningful difference in the lives of those we serve.”

Aidan Dawson, PHA Chief Executive, said:

“Through effective community collaboration, this pilot project aims to provide a pathway for prevention, early intervention and recovery in a local context to help address substance abuse and mental health issues among those most at risk.

“Mental health and substance use issues are sadly all too common and can affect any individual, their friends and family, and local communities. Having an effective network of community, voluntary and statutory groups working within local communities can be vital to help provide this support to all who may be affected. This project demonstrates a shared commitment to tackling these important issues and emphasises the importance of prevention and early intervention to build more resilient and healthier communities.”

Notes to editors:

  1. Photo caption: Health Minister Mike Nesbitt pictured with Gary Rutherford, founder of ARC Fitness.
  1. ARC Fitness was founded in 2019 by Gary Rutherford, a Registered Mental Health Nurse and Addictions Therapist, to address the growing issue of substance use in the North West region. It provides practical help, support and motivation to people struggling with addiction, promoting healthy and sustainable recovery through exercise and positive lifestyle choices. ARC has supported over 300 people through its specific addiction recovery interventions and family support program.
  1. The Prevention, Early Intervention and Recovery project proposes to provide psychosocial interventions to adults with co-occurring mental health and substance use difficulties, their carers and families, and to work in partnership with community, voluntary and statutory partners.
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