The Club actively supported the Belfast based charity FASA - Forum Against Substance Abuse who provided specialist services in relation to prevention, education, training and intervention on issues relating to Suicide, Self- harm, Alcohol & Substance Misuse and Mental Health Crisis. Established in 1996 by a group of families and concerned residents in the Greater Shankill area it had developed significantly over the past seventeen years and provided services across Belfast, Bangor, North Down and Ards with some services provided on a NI wide basis.
However it closed in March 2016 and Extern NI now provides support services related to early and crisis intervention focusing on people who are at risk of suicide or mental ill health in Belfast. There will also be additional work which builds on Extern's existing addiction contracts, such as early family interventions and counselling provision (particularly within the Northern area), community and stakeholder support (particularly within the Belfast area) and information and support services for young people (in the Belfast and South Eastern areas).
The Club's involvement began in 2011 when FASA was selected as one of the supported charities from the Christmas Charity Collections and it has continued to receive donated funds.
The Club also decided to commemorate the Club's Centenary 2011/12 with a Centenary Project of a refurbished mobile trailer for FASA to enable them to extend their work to a much larger target audience and client base in the greater Belfast area and other hot spot locations by their being able tow the unit to the 'drug hot spots' in the city, where trained counsellors can work with drug abusers and potential drug abusers and their families to encourage them to seek further help and treatment for their problems. The Club allocated £25,000 to this venture and had the unit refurbished to FASA's specification by Brown's Coach Company, Moira with a youth-friendly outside 'wrap'. This trailer, in a strange quirk of fate, had previously been donated in 2005 by the Club as part of the Belfast Club's recognition of 100 years of Rotary to, and used by, the Education and Library Board as a Life Education Facility and was no longer being used by them. The trailer was handed over by President Alan to Chris Deconink of FASA and the YETI Programme launched by the Lord Mayor Alderman Gavin Robinson and Dame Mary Peters in the Lord Mayor's parlour at the City Hall, Belfast, 29 May 2013 (Click on picture right to enlarge). The full Centenary Project report can be seen here.
Known as the YETI Youth Hub – the trailer was self powered by a generator, had numerous on-board facilities and could accommodate seating for up to 17 young people. With its youth friendly design it was regularly being used by FASA in a variety of formats, in identified and targeted communities, engaging with marginalized young people on an outreach basis across the City of Belfast. It featured prominently at the City Hall, Belfast for the World Suicide Prevention Day, 12 September 2013 (shown right - click to enlarge).
FASA representatives Chris Deconick and Roberta Coates gave a most interesting talk 30 September 2013 to the Club about the work of FASA and thanked the Club for the donation, refurbishment and presentation of the Youth Hub – YETI Trailer. They noted that it is in permanent use and does really get to those young people who could so easily get caught up in under age drinking, substance abuse and liable to suicide.
The Club and individual members continued to support and commend the work of FASA supporting those affected by drug and solvent abuse and family suicides. They reported that the work that FASA was involved in and the help for those involved in alcohol, substance abuse and suicide was very moving and the Club's donation of the Rotary Trailer really did especially help them make contact with young drop outs who are exposed to drugs and alcohol abuse in areas of the city off the beaten track. (click on images to enlarge)
Hon. Member Dame Mary Peters and Past President Courtenay Thompson attended several of their events. Past President Courtenay Thompson attended their Spring Fair for the families and children who have lost a family member to suicide. He reported "It was a wonderful day and great just to see the smiles on the faces and the camaraderie of the family members and the team". The Garden of Remembrance at FASA Headquarters features a mural evoking - SOLACE - a place of hope and reflection and a wonderful creepy crawly head designed by Hon Member Dame Mary Peters.
FASA marked the end of World Suicide Prevention Week September 2014 with a Mad Hatters Tea Party Past President Courtenay gave the vote of thanks and helped with a collection up the Shankill Road. Hon. Member Dame Mary Peters gave a very uplifting and inspiring talk on the fantastic comfort and HOPE that the SAFE support group gives to the families that have lost a loved one.
They also visited the setting up for the FASA Halloween party at their Eden project at Millisle. After the visit Dame Mary and PP Courtenay visited the new FASA Nightingale house on the Newtownards Road which will provide a 24hr drop in and call centre for those who are experiencing mental anguish and may be thinking of suicide.
In December 2014 they attended the FASA Service of Reflection and Hope held in FASA's Memorial Garden at which Linda Bryans gave an inspirational talk to the families on her personal life through acute depression. Photo shows (left-right) Linda Bryans, a bereaved mother and child, FASA's Roberta Coats and Dame Mary.