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Womens Aid ArmaghDown have received substantial funding from the Department of Health's Mental Health Support Fund. It's part of a £24m package of funding made available in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to support carers, cancer charities and mental health organisations.

The Newry based organisation has received £500K to develop their well-being project with the aim of making it part of their core services.

Women’s Aid tackles domestic/sexual abuse and seeks through its work to promote healthy and non-abusive relationships. They also have an office in Portadown.

Speaking of the organisations delight Eileen Murphy, CEO, Women's Aid ArmaghDown said "We're delighted, absolutely over the moon to get this funding. It's going to have a huge impact on the services that we can provide."

Eileen Murphy, CEO, Women's Aid ArmaghDown.

Womens Aid work with people with any issue that has a detrimental or negative impact on their mental health and well-being in their day to day life. Specifically the organisation works with women, children and young people who have experienced domestic or sexual violence.

Murphy added "We know that part of overcoming and dealing with the trauma of their domestic or sexual abuse is part of their journey to full health and well-being.  This started off as a very tiny pilot two years ago with well-being buddies who were volunteers and are a fantastic addition to our team here. We got money to run a well-being project for a year, which finishes in March so this money will enable us to continue that fantastic work for a further two years and allow us to monitor and evaluate and develop it with the view that it becomes part of the core work we do."

Health Minister Robin Swann made the announcement yesterday, allocating £8.7million in support grants to a range of charitable and community organisations providing mental health services.

A total of 30 projects have received funding through the allocation of the first tranche of grants from the Mental Health Support Fund, 

A total allocation of £8,748,881 from the £10m Mental Health Support Fund has been awarded to groups across Northern Ireland. The activities being funded include increasing counselling provision and support services, expanding peer support networks and providing trauma support programmes. The projects are aimed at a wide range of ages from children through to older people.

Welcoming the initial grant payments the Minister said: “Mental ill health is a huge challenge for our society. Too many people struggle with being mentally unwell and too many people find it difficult to find the help and support they need when they need it.

“It’s undeniable that the pandemic, and the necessary restrictions, have had a negative impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing. When I launched the Mental Health Support Fund earlier this year my aim was to equip and enable our local charity sector to continue to provide important and vital mental health services in our communities.

Pictured are Health Minister Robin Swann and Orla Black, Community Foundation with, back from left, Moyra Wylie, Shane Coulter and Amanda Ashe from Clare CIC and Orlaith Bradley, Kids Together, two of the organisations that were funded.
Pictured are Health Minister Robin Swann and Orla Black, Community Foundation with, back from left, Moyra Wylie, Shane Coulter and Amanda Ashe from Clare CIC and Orlaith Bradley, Kids Together, two of the organisations that were funded.

“These grants are only the first allocation from the £10m Fund and, alongside the 10 year Mental Health Strategy published at the end of June, will work to ensure that anyone who needs help receives the help they need.”

The Fund is being administered and managed by the Community Foundation NI on behalf of the Department and aims to provide grant funding to organisations with charitable status that can deliver outcomes to improve the mental health and emotional wellbeing of the population.

Roisin Wood, Chief Executive of the Community Foundation, welcomed the allocation of monies to the Mental Health Support Fund and said “We always knew, given the impact on mental health and wellbeing as a result of the pandemic that there would be an exponential interest in this fund, and we were right. Whilst we have today announced funding to 30 projects, we could have multiplied this fivefold with 104 applications having been received requesting £33.5m. This meant the Foundation has had to be really stringent in our criteria so I appreciate that some organisations will be disappointed by today's announcement whilst many will be very happy.

“To those who have missed out, I would encourage them to continue to look at where the other funds, including small and medium grants which are already open, can provide support. We realise that alongside the launch of the recent Mental Health Strategy there is so much work to be done in this space, and so we know the projects chosen will make a significant difference to the communities they work in.”

A call for small grant (from £5,000 to £30,000) and medium grant (from £30,000 to £100,000) applications opened on 20 September 2021. Further information can be found on the Community Foundation NI website.

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