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Minister visits health services in Shankill

Health Minister Edwin Poots has today visited services helping to improve the health and wellbeing of people in the Shankill area.
Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Speaking during the visit, the Minister said: “The Shankill area is one of the most deprived areas of Northern Ireland, and its residents often suffer from a range of poor health outcomes, for example life expectancy for males in west Belfast is 72 years compared to 77 across Northern Ireland, and for females its 78 years compared to 82 across Northern Ireland. We need to take robust action to ensure that there is equality of opportunity and equality of access for those in areas suffering from health inequalities.

“I am committed to improving the health of our population. We have seen many improvements in the health of our population and people are living longer than before. However, those who are disadvantaged in our society do not have an equal chance of experiencing good health and wellbeing. Too many still die prematurely or live with conditions that they need not have."

The Health Minister, Edwin Poots MLA, visited two services in the Shankill area that seek to improve the health and wellbeing of the area in a holistic and joined up way:

  • FASA is a community-based organisation providing specialised services for those directly or indirectly affected by substance misuse or suicide and self-harm.
  • Cancer Lifeline offers a community-led response to promoting wellbeing among those affected by cancer.

The Minister continued: “People need to take responsibility for their own health and they need to have the skills to make healthy lifestyle choices, but we also need to ensure that the environment and social structures within which they are support to improving health and reducing health inequalities. That is at the heart of our forthcoming Public Health Strategic Framework which was recently out for Public Consultation.

“I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the commitment and dedication of all the individuals, and community and voluntary organisation, who work in the areas of substance misuse, mental health fields, and cancer support. They perform very difficult and emotionally draining jobs, often with little recognition or reward, but they can have a real impact on the lives of some of the most vulnerable and at risk people in our society, and help to make our communities better places to live.”

Notes to editors:

1. Further Information on FASA can be found at:

2. Further Information on Cancer Lifeline can be found at:

3. For media enquiries about this press release, contact the DHSSPS Press Office on 028 9052 0575 or out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5440 and your call will be immediately returned.