School Board Member John Laferriere is gathering signatures for a citizen’s petition to put on the Town Warrant an article to raise and appropriate $50,000 to reestablish the Family Mediation Program for Londonderry families in need.
“As a community, we need to establish these types of programs where families can come and have a place to get information, get help or talk to someone and get counseling,” he said.
Additionally, the warrant article proposes establishing a special revenue fund to allow and accept any and all gifts, donations and grants to support the Family Mediation Program.
If approved, those funds would be incorporated in the annual default budget calculation, and only a vote at Town Meeting could defund the program.
Laferriere said it would be up to the Town to determine how the funds would be utilized to address the needs of families in crisis as a result of substance abuse and misuse.
“It could be used to start a program,” he said. “We need to be proactive about this.”
Laferriere recently asked the School District to bring forward proposals on how to address in the schools the regional heroin epidemic, calling for additional programs to educate and assist families in crisis.
“We have seen more than a 100 percent increase every year in the last three years here in Londonderry not only in number of overdose calls, to which both police and fire respond simultaneously. But in 2015 we had four heroin-related deaths in our community, compared with only one the year before, zero in 2013 and zero to one before that,” Det. Sgt. Patrick Cheetham told the large crowd gathered for a forum on heroin and opioid abuse in Londonderry on Jan. 6. “We have seen heroin-related deaths quadruple in just one year.”
Additionally, Cheetham reported that over the last five years, the Police Department has seen a dramatic increase in residential burglaries in 2015.
In completing their reports, Police found 93 percent of people arrested for those burglaries said they were addicted to heroin or had a history of addiction to the powerful drug.
Laferriere said he hopes to see an aggressive response from the schools and communities to address what has become an epidemic in Southern New Hampshire, and to provide assistance to families in need.
“I think it would be great to have a place for people to go and get education and get support,” Lisa Graham of Londonderry said of Laferriere’s petition, during the forum. “We don’t have anything like that here in Londonderry, so I think it’s a good idea.”