Presbyterian Church ‘providing salt in rotting society’

Moderator Dr William Henry at the PCI General Assembly
Moderator Dr William Henry at the PCI General Assembly

The Presbyterian Church is trying to shine a light in a “dark and rotting world” via its addiction services, its general assembly has heard.

PCI’s Council for Social Witness is tasked with the delivery of an effective social care service for the church and to the wider community.

Trevor McCormick, convenor of the council, told the general assembly about what he called a “dark and rotting world”.

He said: “There is a pattern of drug misuse, leading to addiction, leading to mental health issues, leading to criminal activity, and too frequently further drug abuse and the cycle continues, and an increasing number breaking this cycle by taking their own lives.”

He commented: “In this darkness we are shining a light through our specialist services work – particularly in Carlisle House (drug rehabilitation unit), Grays Court (supported living project), Thompson House (supported housing for offenders) and our partnership with Flourish (suicide awareness programme).”

Dr McCormick said: “Carlisle House is not only a vital service but also a place of Christian witness as the service users are now given the opportunity to participate in Alpha or Christianity Explored courses.”

He added: “In Thompson House these courses have been used for a number of years and members of the assembly should be encouraged that some have professed faith during or after the course.

“In the midst of the darkness there is light, in a rotting society we are providing salt.”

As a service provider with a budget of £10 million, the Council for Social Witness manages PCI’s nursing and residential care homes, along with supported housing schemes for people with a learning disability, intellectual disability and those with addictions and former offenders.

The report to the General Assembly presented ‘a kaleidoscope of care and witness that has been undertaken’.

It also highlighted a number of concerns, for example, about the impact of welfare reform on individuals and families living with disability on a day-to-day basis.

The general assembly expressed “real concern” that in the absence of the NI Assembly vital legislation and appropriate funding is being denied to essential health and social care services.