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Jonathan Curran, AMH New Horizons Downpatrick

Albert Schweitzer once said, “In everyone’s life, at sometime, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.

When I first started with AMH, well for a start you wouldn’t have gotten me up here speaking to a room full of people, but more than that, I was introverted almost to the point of being a hermit and I was a bad tempered wee sod to boot; without their help, I probably wouldn’t be here today.

I started in AMH to help get myself back into work, I’m still not quite at that point yet but I’m far closer than I would have been otherwise, mostly thanks to the courses that I have attended.

I had attended a media class in Tec before coming to New Horizons but had been unable to finish it because of work, so when the offer of a film course came up I practically jumped at it. The film was a short documentary about how Downpatrick and how it changed between the 50’s & the 80’s, we did it in the style of an oral history, interviewing some of the more well know characters in the town, people who had been there long enough to really know, and be able to tell us how our town had changed and tell us in their opinion if it had changed for the better or worse, I have to admit, I learned a lot working with all these amazing people from my hometown, that I never would have gotten to know otherwise.

During the course of making the film those of us on the crew worked hard together to produce the best quality of film we could, it was great for teambuilding, I made friends on that shoot that I’m still in touch with and that I wouldn’t replace for the world. Everybody tried their hand at pretty much every part of production from camera and sound work to directing some shots and even taking the interviews, personally I preferred working with the camera. Following on from this the film premiered in the local cinema, we somehow managed to fill the screen not only on the premier night but on a second night when we were presented with our certificates for completing the course, I’ll be honest I was petrified on both occasions, I didn’t want to even go to either premier but I did and I’m glad for it because everyone who saw the film, on both occasions were complementary of it while I was doing my best to hide they sought out myself and the other crew members to congratulate us on a job well done, it was a huge boost to my confidence, even today whenever I’m feeling low or nervous about something I think back to those nights and smile thinking of the nice things they said. It turned out that much to my surprise, the course was being graded, I got an A. It was the first A that I had received at that level, equivalent to an A at GCSE something I never managed when I was in school, it might not seem like much but to me it was a big deal and something I’m still proud of.

I think doing this course sparked, or at least, reminded me of something I enjoyed, because since completing it I’ve been a very different person, I’m more open, friendly, admittedly you still couldn’t call me an extrovert or the life of the party by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m more willing to try and I’m more accepting of change, something I have always struggled with in the past. I’ve since moved onto doing a drama course with AMH and we put on a small production a few months ago, hopefully the results will come back as positive as the film. AMH and the courses it runs are responsible for rekindling my inner flame and I am forever grateful for the work they’ve done to help me. Thank you all for taking the time to listen to me ramble on, it’s been a pleasure speaking to you all today.


We have worked with AMH New Horizons Foyle for many years. They have been an invaluable resource enabling us to successfully employ and integrate colleagues with a history of long-term unemployment and mental health issues into our company.

Our 2009/2010 Annual Report

The theme of this year’s Annual Report “Working it Out! – working towards good mental health and wellbeing” is an apt one in the current climate. There is no doubt that when our mental health is good we respond better to the stresses and challenges of life and make better use of our opportunities.

The tough times ahead will result in considerable stresses and challenges for many and the work of AMH is all the more relevant and vital in addressing mental health needs. We
provide our clients with many opportunities to be as active as possible, physically, socially and mentally. We provide them with the tools to build a better future and become more employable.

Read the Full Annual Report 2009/2009

Five ways to Well-Being

World Mental Health Day 2010

Local mental health organisations from the North Down area undertook a ‘Stress Free Day’ event at Bloomfield Shopping Centre to raise awareness for World Mental Health Day on the 10th October.

The purpose of this year’s event was to promote a simple guide to ‘Five ways to Well-Being’. Several local mental health organisations were represented at the event, including Praxis Care, Action Mental Health, Samaritans, Mindwise, NIAMH, Growing Connections, Age North Down & Ards, Holywood Family Counselling in addition to staff from the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust’s Community Mental Health Team, Health Promotion Department and Patient Client Council. Staff from the Job Centre Pathways Team were also on hand to provide advice to people with a disability who wished to return to employment.

Pharmacists from Boots Chemist kindly provided their time and expertise to check people’s blood pressure and provide advice on the benefits of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The event was a great success with many people availing of the opportunity to both relax and take time out from their shopping.

AMH Celebrate World Mental Health Day

AMH Action Mental Health are holding their Annual Tughan Mental Health Lecture to observe World Mental Health Day at Malone House on Monday 11th October 2010. The Tughan Lecture was established in memory of a founder of AMH, Fredrick Charles Tughan CBE.

Hosting the evening will be Michael McBride, Chief Medical Officer. The guest speaker is Professor Bob Grove, Joint Chief Executive of the Centre for Mental Health. The theme of the lecture is ““Supported Employment – Getting Research Evidence into Policy and Practice”

  • In the UK only 20% of people in contact with specialist mental health services have paid work or are in full-time education
  • People who experience mental health problems consistently say they want to work
  • On the whole work is good for health, unemployment is very damaging. “If you think work is bad for people with mental illness, try poverty, unemployment, and social isolation”. Marone & Golowka (2000) Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal
  • There is good evidence to suggest that with the right support more than half of those interested in employment could be helped to gain and maintain paid employment

Walk Like An Egyptian

Egyptian Dance Class

Back in November New Horizons in Downpatrick held an Egyptian Dance Class the unit in connection with Down Community Arts. Everyone had a great time:

“Brilliant, loved it: we got taught simple exercises and dance that we can do at home. I’d love to see her again, she was so down to earth, wasn’t what I expected”. Elaine Shore.

“I thought it was really good fun and would like to do it again. A good way to do exercises I really enjoyed it”. Paula Hanlon

“Very good, I enjoyed different exercises, entertaining, great to do something different. The teacher was very good at all the moves!! She was also very patient. She was a really lovely lady to teach us to dance. Hope she comes back soon.” Kelly Anne Leavy

Cooking up a storm in Antrim with AMH!

Local top chef and restaurateur, Sean Owens, wowed Catering Clients and Staff from AMH New Horizons with his culinary skills at an event in Antrim, also attended by Mayor of Antrim, Adrian Watson. Seven of the New Horizons units were represented; Antrim, Belfast, Downpatrick, Fermanagh, Foyle, Newry and Newtownards.

The Clients who attended the event are studying for NVQs in Catering and Sean gave them a “taste” of where their training could take them. Sean is Chef and Patron of Gardiners Restaurant, Magherafelt. He travelled and trained around the world, including work as a chef’s apprentice in Hotel Montana in Zurich, Switzerland; in F.G. Brittinghams Irish Pub and Seafood Restaurant Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania and at the International Sporting Club, in London, England as Senior Sous Chef. He served as Head Chef at the Ballygally Castle, and later as Sous Chef at the Europa Hotel Belfast. He served as Chairman of the Northern Ireland Association of Chefs and Cooks and was one of the first chefs to be inaugurated to the Northern Ireland Culinary Academy.

Marie O’Hara from AMH said, “Sean has been a great inspiration today for our clients and staff by sharing his skills and passion for his work. We’d like to thank him for joining us and giving a very impressive demonstration. I would also like to congratulate our staff and clients for all their hard work and hope that today has encouraged them to continue their training and perhaps pursue a career in the catering industry”. The Event was kindly sponsored by the Ulster Pork & Bacon Forum.