Lots of our supporters are running the Belfast City Marathon on Monday 2nd May 2011 and raising lots of money for us! We have a number of runners who are attempting the full marathon distance and quite a few relay teams too! The easiest way to show your support is by donating through JustGiving!
Good luck to all the runners on behalf of everyone at AMH!!
AMH New Horizons in Fermanagh welcomed Arlene Foster, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment to their unit in Drumcoo yesterday. Arlene is also running for re-election in Fermanagh and South Tyrone in the 5th May Assembly elections. The Minister had a chance to meet with people in her consituency who are living with mental illness and find out more about the services available at AMH which are helping clients on the road to recovery and a better future. Arlene enjoyed seeing around the unit, hearing about the courses on offer, and the difference AMH is making to peoples’ lives. The visit ended with lunch, which was prepared by clients who are training for catering qualifications.
Gaining work experience when you have been out of employment for a while can be difficult, but thanks to work placements organised through the Equal Opportunities Unit at Queen’s, local people are getting the opportunity to gain valuable experience at the University.
One such person is Mark Hance who is currently on a one year part time work placement with Information Services in the McClay Library. The placement has been organised through Action Mental Health, the Equal Opportunities and Information Services.
A Masters graduate in Library and Information Management, Mark suffers from panic disorder – a condition which has resulted in him being out of work for a while.
Mark said “20% of people experience some form of mental illness and lots suffer from panic disorders. They can be debilitating, much more that people think. There is often a stigma attached with mental illness, but it is something which can be overcome and people can go on and live normal lives. Everyone has their own coping mechanisms. When I suffered my first occurrence twenty years ago, I suffered in silence and tried to cope with it myself. This time round I sought help with Action Mental Health and have found it really helpful. Work is a good remedy for most things and placements like this give people like me the opportunity to come back to work.”
Mark works two days a week in the Acquisitions and Cataloguing department in the McClay Library which deals with the ordering, purchasing and cataloguing of books, journals and electronic resources. The Library has a collection of approximately 1.5 million books and 16,000 journals.
“For me this placement is a stepping stone. It builds on my masters and is an area I want to work in”. explains Mark. “I previously worked as a relief library assistant in Newcastle Upon Tyne Council, so this placement is perfect for me and will give me the valuable experience I need to fill my CV.”
Maire Bradley is the Cataloguing and Acquisitions Librarian in the McClay Library. She said, “This is the second placement our department has facilitated with Action Mental Health and we have found them to be a win win situation for everyone involved. The placement is very much a two way process. We have essential work which needs to be done and Mark gets the work experience that he needs. It is hard to get work experience in libraries, so this is a perfect opportunity for Mark to get his foot in the door.”
Explaining the importance of placements, Paul Browne, Equal Opportunities Manager at Queen’s said, “We were approached by Action Mental Health to facilitate this placement and were delighted to be able to do so. It is an example of one of a number of initiatives taking place across the University to support equality and diversity in the workplace. We have facilitated a number of placements in different departments in the University, all of which have worked extremely well. The value of these placements cannot be underestimated. As this placement is for one year, it gives Mark a longer period of time, and better opportunity, to train and gain the work experience he needs to go on and fulfil his career ambitions.”
A special volunteer recognition event was held in AMH New Horizons North Down & Ards, in this the European Year of Volunteering. Special guests included Cllr David Smyth, Mayor of North Down, Peter Weir MLA, Wendy Osbourne CEO Volunteer Now, Sonya Duffy Volunteer Manager with the South Eastern Trust and David Babington CEO AMH.
The event was held to raise awareness of the benefits of volunteering to individuals and the host organisations. 3 clients talked about their placements and encouraged other clients to volunteer. A total of 25 clients received certificates from Peter Weir MLA, to acknowlege the commitment they have shown to volunteering and the immense benefits they have received by participating in the scheme. Representatives from 20 of the host organisations also received certificates in recognition of their valued contribution to volunteering and a small gesture of thanks from AMH.
“Before volunteering at The Link I had no self worth – but being there and helping other people has given so much to me and has built up my confidence and self esteem.”
Mandy Green, Catering Assistant, The MARC Project
“Being with other people is very important to me and to my mental health and I have got great satisfaction from helping others. The experience that I have gained at Bayview will help me move forward in my chosen career.”
Frances Davies, Craft Tutor, Bayview Resource Centre
“Volunteering in the library has given structure and purpose to the my day which I didn’t have before. It also gives me a chance to interact with a wide range of people of all ages which I enjoy immensely. I am much more confident around people now.”
Gwyneth Lines – Library Assistant, SERC library.
“The staff at ASDA don’t treat me any differently because I’m a client from New Horizons. I was really touched recently when I was ill and the staff sent me a get well card – it really made me feel part of the team. Doing the placement has been so good and I am looking forward to returning to the workplace permanently.”
AMH would like to thank the following organisations who have supported client placements:
Action Cancer, Age Concern, Ards Citizens Advice Bureau, ASDA, Assisi Animal Sanctuary, Ballymaconnell Nursing Home, Bayview Resource Centre, Beacon House, Boots the Chemist, Café Manor, Cancer Connect, Daisies Café, Growing Connections, Jigsaw NI, Kiltonga Christian Centre, Lazy Daisies, North Down Motor Factors, Volunteer Now, Oxfam, Praxis Care, Rathgill Community Association, Re:Store, Redburn/Loughview Forum, Simon Community, South Eastern Regional College, The British Heart Foundation, The Link, The MARC Project, The National Trust, U3A, Ulster Cancer Foundation, Volunteer Now, Volunteer Services SE Trust and Youth for Christ.
Today is National No Smoking Day which aims to help people quit the habit. With the right NHS support, people are four times more likely to succeed. Today AMH New Horizons in Newtownards held an event to give advice and encouragement to those who were considering giving up!
The event was attended by Kenny Graham from Boots the Chemist who had lots of advice and tips and Mr Stubbs! A number of clients are determined to give up smoking and we wish them luck!
We launched our manifesto for the 2011 Assembly elections on 7 February in the Long Gallery at Stormont.
The document outlines our ideas on how to develop mental health provision in Northern Ireland, including how voluntary and community organisations, such as AMH can help to develop service provision. The document outlines serious concerns regarding how proposed cuts to services will impede work being done whilst cases of mental illness are rising considerably.
The document calls for three sensible, achievable outcomes:
1.Help us sustain our future
Uncertainty about funding makes it impossible to plan for the future and to determine what level of services AMH can provide to some of the most vulnerable people in society. We need secure and certain funding streams to continue to deliver vital services. Give us that certainty and help us sustain our future.
2. Let us do what we do best
Action Mental Health can provide life-changing services to people with mental health difficulties in a professional and cost-effective way. Let AMH do what it does best in supporting the recovery of people with mental health and learning disability needs.
3. Lead by example
The public sector, including Government Departments, needs to lead by example in promoting positive mental health at every opportunity. They need to lead the charge in combating stigma, putting in place Mental Health awareness programmes and policies in the workplace and offering work placements to people with mental health needs.
AMH New Horizons Downpatrick was proud to present its foray into the film making world when it premiered a movie made by its clients, focusing on the changing face of Downpatrick from the 50’s to the 80’s. The film, called ‘Downpatrick, Life in the 1950s – 1980s’, which was made entirely by clients of AMH New Horizons, Downpatrick, had its premier at Eclipse cinema in the town, marking the culmination of five months’ work.
Speaking at the launch of the film, which features interviews with local civic leaders such as Maurice Hayes, and well known local characters, Joanna Miskelly of Action Mental Health said that she was immensely proud of the film,
“The clients were responsible for directing, producing and interviewing the local characters who feature in the film. The final piece is a credit to their hard work and dedication.This project has been a real inspiration to those involved.”
The film has been supported and funded by the PEACE III Programme managed by the Special EU Programmes Body and delivered by the North Down, Ards and Down District Council cluster. The community history project organised by Down County Museum and the Somme Heritage Centre has seen 20 community groups from Down, North Down and Ards engaging in a series of educational activities designed to promote greater understanding of local culture and traditions and enhance awareness of cultural identity and diversity in the region. The clients wanted to do something which they could be directly involved in, which was going to challenge them and which would also be fun!
Joanna said the project grew from there,
“Initially we were going to look at one decade in the history of Downpatrick, but as we examined them individually, it was evident there had been quite a bit of change, so the clients thought that it would be more interesting to look at Downpatrick from the 1950’s – 80’s and in doing so, see how it has changed. Clients thought that interviewing characters who had actually lived and worked in the town during this period would give us a ‘birdseye’ view of how the town was and how it has changed over the years.
From its inception in 1963, Action Mental Health has grown to become one of Northern Ireland’s leading mental health charities, providing services to over 1700 people across Northern Ireland every year. The organisation works with people from all backgrounds to enable them to recover from mental illness so that they can enjoy an improved quality of life. The New Horizons project helps people overcome the effects of mental ill health, and in many cases return to work. It offers a range of projects and qualifications, providing training, personal development programmes and social projects.
The Minister for Employment and Learning, Danny Kennedy visited AMH New Horizons in Newry today.
AMH New Horizons works to improve the health and well-being of people with mental health needs, by providing personal development programmes, vocational training and employment opportunities. AMH opened its doors in Newry 21 years ago and now has two locations in the area, Greenbank Industrial Estate and Canal Street.
Clients can train for a variety of IT qualifications from introductory to advanced level. During his visit the Minister met Stephen McConville. Stephen is the first client in Newry to pass a module in the Advanced ECDL (European Computer Driving License) course. The Minister offered his congratulations and presented Stephen with his certificate.