Virtual programme brings New Horizons to clients during the lockdown

AMH New Horizons FOYLE has unveiled its virtual lockdown programme to support clients’ mental health during the continuing coronavirus quarantine period.

The service has launched a comprehensive training calendar, delivering remote control activity packs to clients, offering them workshop activities, online entertainment and educational, plus arts and craft materials.

And for those feeling the effects of isolation from their fellow clients and in need of emotional support, staff are offering a listening ear service in the form of daily telephone calls.

Service Manager Pauline Flanagan explained: “Having routine and structure are important for everyone, but it is especially essential for those with mental ill health. With that in mind we have a full programme to offer clients to help fill their days and keep up their spirits.

“We have had a soft launch with clients who have tried and tested the workshops via Zoom and early indications are that this approach is having a positive impact on their mental health.”

Staff at New Horizons are also providing daily phone support, through a listening ear service, offering signposting, advocating, emotional support, essential Covid-19 information and safeguarding provision.

“In addition to the interactive training calendar, staff are delivering a ‘stay at home activity pack’ which complements the training schedule and allows clients who have no access to WiFi to be equipped with everything they need.

“It includes materials to enable clients to engage in myriad projects: wool for the future knitted Christmas tree project, seeds for our sunflower project, instructions for photography, a sketch pad, pencil art,  instructions for sockology, recipes for cookery competitions, note paper pens for poetry and storytelling,” listed Pauline.

Each piece of work will be assembled, when New Horizons clients are allowed to meet again and will be put on display.

Pauline added: “Isolation impacts negatively and can exasperate mental ill-health; this pack give clients ‘remote control’, a real sense of connectivity, plus and materials to ignite the spark of creativity without going to the shops.” 

The pack contains ten sections which replicate the buttons of a remote control, including: On, including a virtual calendar; OK, featuring a workbook on the Five Ways to Well-Being; Volume; information on how to connect with AMH staff; Play, a self-directed activities wordsearch, Sudoku, crosswords, etc.; plus Fast Forward, including instructions and materials for projects to make together while clients all apart.

It also features Pause, withinformation and actions to help in the battle against addictions; Rewind, withphotos of Foyle muse, ‘The way we were’; Mute isolation activities when one’s buttons are been pressed; Off, offeringagratitude journal and tips for sleeping; and finally Record, with information and links for support services in Western Trust area. 

New Horizons activities are operated through the “Working it Out” project, which is part-funded through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014-2020, the Department for the Economy and the five NI Health & Social Care Trusts.

There are two AMH New Horizons services in the Western Trust area, including AMH New Horizons Foyle and AMH New Horizons Fermanagh, both of which are providing responsive, innovative, provision at this difficult time. 

Collectively, the services each have over 28 years of providing successful and highly skilled, professional services to clients experiencing mental ill health throughout Londonderry and Co Fermanagh. 

AMH Services are continuing to receive and accept referrals at this difficult time from the Western Trust Community Mental Health Teams and other referral agents teams in both regions. Intake procedures have been amended and adapted to ensure services are responsive, compliant and adhere to GDPR and safeguarding protocols. Should you wish to be referred to AMH Foyle or AMH Fermanagh in the Western Trust area please contact Community Mental Health Teams, Jobs & Benefits offices or your local GP multi-agency team.

Virtual Activities Schedule for clients

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