A new £2million, six-bed intensive support unit for young people has officially opened in Ballymena.
The Willows provides high quality, focused residential support for those aged between 12 and 18 with a complexity of needs for a maximum of 12 weeks.
Health Minister Edwin Poots, who officially opened the unit on Thursday, said: “This impressive unit offers an opportunity to encourage positive changes in behaviour of young people with a complexity of needs and help return them to the community.
“The unit is a perfect demonstration of the changing needs of children in the care population and our understanding of those needs. Thankfully we have moved away from big units, accommodating large numbers of children and young people, to smaller units which are more like the homely environments they are supposed to be.”
The Willows provides a bright, modern, homely environment and includes six en-suite bedrooms, two large living rooms, games rooms and staff bedrooms. It also contains an independent self-contained flat with kitchenette to encourage young people to take part in every day household tasks such as laundry, preparation of meals and shopping.
There is also a computer resource area with Wi-Fi, hairdressing facilities and landscaped exterior with recreation facilities such as the Multi Use Games Area (MUGA) to encourage young people to use outdoor facilities.
Marie Roulston, Director of Children’s Services in the Northern Trust, said: “Some families can experience a breakdown in relationships between parents and children. The new resource will provide care to young people aged 12-18, whilst an intensive assessment is undertaken with both the young people and their families.
“The aim is to provide high quality, focused residential support for a maximum of 12 weeks. During this time social workers will work with the young people and their families to build the relationship back up, hopefully to allow the young person to return home to their family.
“This investment reaffirms the Northern Trust’s commitment to developing high quality services for children and young people and will help ensure that those services continue to be delivered in a modern, safe and appropriate environment to those who need it.”