You are not alone!

You are not alone – and there is help available, right on your doorstep.

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 7:55 am

That’s the message as a new seven-week awareness campaign is launched by the Mid and East Antrim (MEA) Loneliness Network, a collaboration of community, voluntary and statutory organisations committed to combating isolation and addressing vulnerabilities in people of all ages and from all walks of life.

“Loneliness is nothing new,” a spokesperson said, “but its impact has been more widely felt right across society during the COVID-19 crisis, with the British Red Cross recently calling on the Northern Ireland Executive to develop a cross-departmental strategy to tackle the problem.

“Throughout the coronavirus emergency, MEA Loneliness Network has been working to ensure at-risk groups, particularly teenagers and young adults, as well as those living alone, feel more connected and supported through a range of initiatives which have included a Social Inclusion tablet project, art packs, afternoon tea boxes, salad-growing kits and emotional well-being boxes for young people.

There is a network of support here to help beat loneliness in Mid and East Antrim

“After receiving funding from the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, the network has been able to run six projects, including Good Morning Ballymena doorstep friendship calendars and ‘Thinking of You’ cards, Northern Area Community Network (NACN) Homemade cards for Christmas, and MEA Borough Council Connected ‘Walks and Talk’.”

The network, which brings together Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and the Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT) along with a range of community, voluntary and statutory organisations, has developed a handy guide to the support and services available within the borough and across Northern Ireland, for anyone who finds themselves struggling.

A seven-week awareness campaign will also roll out across Council’s social media channels as efforts continue to communicate the message that help is available.

Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna, Council’s Dementia Champion and MEA Loneliness Network representative, encouraged everyone to make themselves aware of the wealth of local resources. She said: “The work of Mid and East Antrim Loneliness Network has never been more important as we continue to make our way through the social, economic and health impacts of the pandemic.

“But the message we want to get across through the MEA Loneliness Network, is that help is available and you are never alone. One of Council’s key objectives through our Corporate Plan is creating a strong, vibrant, safe and inclusive community, and providing our citizens with access to support and services at a local level is a major element in that.

Sabrina Lynn, Health and Wellbeing Locality Lead (Antrim & Ballymena) for the NHSCT, said: “I would encourage anyone who feels like they are struggling, or who has a family member or friend in need, to please log on to this wonderful resource at www.midandeastantrim.gov.uk/MEALonelinessNetwork and take the first step to connecting with others and beating those feelings of isolation.”