It’s wedding planning season once again! As brides-to-be and their grooms get excited about their big day they’re hot-footing it to wedding fairs across the country. Wedding fever reached The Stormont Hotel in Belfast on Sunday when Action Mental Health showcased its alternative wedding favours – when wedding parties can donate to the charity to support local people with mental ill-health, through our wonderful partner, Perfect Bliss Wedding Events. Don’t worry if you missed this one – you can catch the next one at the Culloden Hotel in Cultra, next Sunday, January 14 from 1pm to 4pm. At each event, one exhibitor will get the chance to win half the cost of their stand and this week’s winner was ‘With Love Alex Stationery’. The rest of the proceeds of the competition go back to AMH. Thanks so much to everyone who came along to support us and Perfect Bliss Wedding Events.
It’s been like Santa’s Workshop up in AMH New Horizons Foyle! For weeks & weeks our very talented Clients have been creating their very own “fairy village” for Christmas. As you journey through the magical village, clients have shared positive messages reminding everyone to look after their own and others mental health over the holiday period and spreading Christmas cheer!
When I was a student in England, life was good. But then I took ill with depression at the start of the third year of my biology course. I returned home and attended mental health services, who put me in touch with my local AMH unit. I started off by attending an art class once a week, which was good fun. The art class got me out chatting with other people and meant I had something to get up for on a Monday morning. Despite an unstable mood, I persevered with the art class and about nine months later I decided to challenge myself by trying out some voluntary administrative work. I spoke to the Employment Officer Stephanie McKeating who found a small, friendly and down-to-earth charity Good Morning Down that welcomed and supported me. This added more routine and structure to my week, and I felt like I was helping someone out and being useful.
I have a real interest in technology, and so a few months later I embarked on the ECDL computer course at AMH. I thoroughly enjoyed this and achieved a recognisable qualification too. As my mood slowly began to improve, I felt that I could manage some part-time work. After discussing my options with Stephanie the Employment Officer, I started applying for a couple of jobs and to some recruitment agencies. I managed to get two interviews for admin posts – it was nerve-wracking but I chose to battle on and try to manage the anxiety. I was unsuccessful in securing both posts which was disheartening, but as my brother says, “nothing can take the place of persistence”. Months later, I received an email out of the blue from one of the employers asking if I would still like the job, as the successful candidate had decided not to take it. I was absolutely thrilled and said yes! The job is going really well and has meant my week is much busier. I feel like I have a real sense of purpose.
The team at AMH have been brilliant. Along with the wonderful mental health services, they have supported me through some difficult times, and helped me to get my life back on track. It has taken a long time, and has required much patience and determination, but I’m getting there. Not every day is a breeze, but I’m in a much better place now than I was three years ago.
The New Horizons project Ben participated in is part-funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020 and the Department for the Economy
AMH Derriaghy have been working with the River Trust and The Conservation Volunteers to ensure our little feathered friends don’t go hungry this winter while we’re all indoors stuffing ourselves with the treats of the festive season.
Clients have been turning their artistic hands to making bird boxes to hang near the Seymour Hill area of Lisburn. The boxes are to be installed with the help of two local primary schools, who will help select the prime spots to attract our hungriest birds.
This is just one of a number of nature conservation projects AMH Derriaghy clients are getting involved in, and which brings together diverse parts of the community to share in the common aim of nature conservation.
New Horizons Fermanagh are celebrating after smashing their target of volunteering 1000 hours in the local community – by clocking up an extra 300 hours. The ambitious target was set as part of the Fermanagh-based service’s 25th anniversary commemorations.
Clients made a massive contribution to the local community through a variety of placements, from befriending people with disabilities and caring for animals, to building a dirt bike track, upcycling old furniture, working in charity shops and packing food hampers for those in need over Christmas.
The challenge provided clients with the opportunity to tap in to the Five Ways to Wellbeing, with individual placements allowing them to ‘stay connected, be active, take notice, learn new skills and give back’. It also gave clients a shared sense of achievement by surpassing their volunteering goal by 300 hours. Joined by Raymond Farrell, one of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s Mental Health Champions, and Lynn Johnston from Volunteer Now, 36 clients celebrated 1300 hours volunteering across 23 different organisations.
Tackling the stigma of mental health is the theme of a new art exhibition on display at the Sean Hollywood Arts Centre, Newry, created by the talented clients of Action Mental Health New Horizons Newry. The essence of the works of art portray the difficulties many people experience when opening up to their family, friends and work colleagues about their mental ill health.
The paintings and photographs on show will hopefully help stimulate conversations about ‘the elephant in the room’ – the issue of mental health – to help break the stigma. Everyone is very welcome to come along to enjoy the artistry, until the end of December. Chairperson of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Roisin Mulgrew helped Brian Hughes of AMH Derriaghy launch the exhibition.
Action Mental Health got into the festive spirit this week, spreading Christmas cheer at Translink’s Great Victoria Street train station with the support of the Belfast Uke Jam. AMH Derriaghy’s ukulele group had been invited to perform at the Translink station to raise funds for New Horizons. Clients serenaded passersby on ukulele, supported by the voices of the Translink choir, while others collected donations from the generous public. Amid an atmosphere of fun and dancing and great support by commuters the event managed to raise £811.88. Even Santa dropped by for a gig!