Youth Partnership breaks the stigma around mental health across Causeway area

Youth Partnership breaks the stigma around mental health across Causeway area

Barry Torrens, Coleraine Unit Commander of CRS; Leanne Abernethy, IMPACT Project Manager and IFI Board Member, Allen McAdam pictured at the unveiling of the new mural. SPB43-03

Staff Reporter


Staff Reporter


THIRTY one young people have transformed their lives thanks to a collaboration that aims to break down the stigma around Mental Health.

The ‘IMPACT’ project, which is part of Ulidia Training, whose office is in Ballymoney, works to enhance employability, boost confidence and encourages participants to give back to their local communities. Young people worked in close partnership with Coleraine’s Community Rescue Service (CRS), a volunteer led rescue organisation that searches for missing people.

In recent months, those involved managed a successful community based mental health and wellbeing programme that offered a range of activities for local residents including; wellbeing workshops, Community Rescue Service training, mental health walks and a search and rescue scenario.

Supported through the International Fund for Ireland’s Personal Youth Development Programme (PYDP), IMPACT works with young people aged 16-25, who are the most marginalised in society, working with them to develop much needed life skills, instil confidence, give back to their own communities and prepare them for employment.

The wellbeing initiative culminated with a celebration event and the unveiling of a new mural at the Community Rescue Service’s unit in Coleraine.

Commenting on the success of the IMPACT project, IFI Board Member Allen McAdam said:

“Our PYDP programme is designed to target those who feel left behind. It goes beyond the traditional concept of a youth initiative and allows participants to become actively involved in planning their own future goals and ambitions as well as giving back through community projects.

“The local area has recently experienced a rise in suicide rates and it is incredibly encouraging to see how these young people have wanted to tackle important issues such as mental health. Suicide reminds us all how fragile life can be so it is vital that these positive community interventions continue.”

The project was awarded £289,697 in 2018 to deliver its work through a range of Good Relations, Personal Development skills and Further Education/ Employability Development courses. It is tailored to suit each individual and those involved are actively encouraged to help co-design activities and outcomes in line with their needs and interests.

Leanne Abernethy, IMPACT project coordinator spoke about the importance of the community partnership:

“Suicide rates along the North Coast spurred the group to focus their efforts on mental health and wellbeing and they developed a strong relationship with CRS who volunteer to help find missing people. For the participants it has been really important to break down barriers surrounding suicide and promote positive mental health.

“This has helped give our young people skills and experience in planning and organising events, teamwork, risk assessments, marshalling and problem solving. It also promotes the excellent work of the Community Rescue Service as well as delivering mental health and well-being workshops, providing support to the community.

“We are very proud of what this group has achieved and the mural unveiled at today’s event is a testament to the commitment and dedication and personal growth that they have experienced.”

Barry Torrens, Unit Commander of Coleraine Unit, Community Rescue Service Northern District said:

“The Community Rescue Service search for missing, vulnerable and high risk individuals throughout Northern Ireland 24/7. We search on rivers, urban and rural areas, including forests. The new mural from the young people at IMPACT features a river search, a land search and a community rescue service volunteer reaching out for a missing person. The central feature is also a metaphor for our strapline, ‘The Community Rescue Service - helping keep our communities safe.”

Amanda, a participant involved with the IMPACT project added:

“Mental Health and wellbeing is a massive problem in Northern Ireland and suicide rates are at an all-time high so we wanted to do a project where we could learn to run a series of events and broaden our own development but also to help our communities and that’s what this project did. We specifically wanted Community Rescue Service involved because of the work they do in the community searching for missing people and they are all volunteers.”

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