Mural bringing ‘Hope’ to local support group

Jonathan Hodge, Manager of Hope Centre in Ballymena, along with Mayor of Mid & East Antrim Cllr Paul Reid, Chairperson May Anderson and Jackie Patton, Head of Community Planning at Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.
Jonathan Hodge, Manager of Hope Centre in Ballymena, along with Mayor of Mid & East Antrim Cllr Paul Reid, Chairperson May Anderson and Jackie Patton, Head of Community Planning at Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

A new mural has been unveiled in Ballymena, aimed at breaking down the stigma associated with substance misuse.

For many years, the town has drawn widespread attention over substance misuse and in its worse days was once dubbed the drugs capital of Northern Ireland.

In more recent times, the issue of a chemical opioid linked to ‘numerous deaths’ being sold to drug users on the streets of Ballymena led to the Department of Health urging medical professionals to be alert to its availability.

At the forefront of working to support those with addictions has been the town’s Hope Centre, and the new mural, unveiled at their centre on Broughshane Street, aims to help people affected by addictions to take their steps towards recovery.

The project, which has been funded by Mid and East Antrim Policing & Community Safety Partnership has been installed to get people talking about issues surrounding alcohol and drug misuse.

Jonathan Hodge, Manager of The Hope Centre, said: “As well as supporting people with addictions, part of the work of The Hope Centre is challenging the negative stigma and discrimination often associated with addiction.

“Our new mural installation by street artist EMIC, supported by Mid and East Antrim PCSP, is part of this work and we are delighted with the outcome.”

Jonathan added: “The work is based around themes selected by our service users, hope and dignity, and we hope that it will encourage people affected by addictions to take the first steps towards recovery.

“We would like to thank the PCSP for supporting the project, as well as the Big Lottery Fund for their ongoing support of our work, particularly with older people who took part in this project.”

The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim also unveiled a new plaque to commemorate the partnership.

“It’s been an honour to come here and unveil such a moving and exciting project here at The Hope Centre,” Councillor Paul Reid said.

He added: “I’ve met some wonderful people who use this invaluable service and heard their emotional stories.

“The Hope Centre is one of the groups involved in my charitable cause this year, ‘Building Stronger People’.

“Addiction and mental health problems often go hand in hand and we need to ensure we do everything we can to promote what help is out there.

“Our citizens are at the heart of this and we have a duty of care to protect and help those most vulnerable in our society and help them to build a stronger future for themselves and their families.”

If you are suffering through addiction and would like to contact The Hope Centre you can call 028 2563 2726 or email info@hopeballymena.com

For more information on the Mayor’s Charitable Cause ‘Building Stronger People’ visit here.