It doesn’t have to be a Blue Monday

Today, the third Monday in January has become known as Blue Monday, referred by some as the most depressing day of the year. Whilst there’s no denying that people often feel fed up and overwhelmed at this time of year, we can all make small steps to support our own health and wellbeing, and many of our National Lottery funded groups help with this.

Be Safe Be Well have set up five Men’s Sheds in the North Coast and North West thanks to a our £500,000 National Lottery grant, giving the opportunity for people to get together, share knowledge and skills, but more importantly talk about challenges. 

Being part of a Men’s Shed has really helped, Dean Kelly, who attends the Shed in Laurel Hill, Coleraine. He said: “It’s a lifesaver, it keeps you on the straight and narrow. I have been in some very dark places in the last few years but the Men’s Shed has made a massive difference to me.”  

He has taken on a leading role in his Laurel Hill group and hopes to spearhead its expansion so others can benefit from the activities and camaraderie on offer. For more on Dean’s story see this Belfast Telegraph article.

Patrick Breslin with Dean Kelly in the Men’s Shed at Laurel Hill in Coleraine

Over the last five years, we have supported nearly 400 groups in Northern Ireland who are helping reduce loneliness and isolation through a range of mental health projects, befriending services and community activity – many have worked tirelessly to keep their community connected during the pandemic.

WISPA have been using £187,804 National Lottery grant to run their ‘Fitness, Attitude and Belief (FAB)’ project to get women across Belfast involved in physical activity, supporting good mental health by getting them involved in exercise, taking part in challenges and providing access to training and qualifications. They have continued online during restrictions, making such a big difference.

Another National Lottery funded project, L’Arche Belfast, has been using their National Lottery grant to provide personal development activities for people with learning disabilities and others in need.  

Patrick and Debbie enjoying the outside space at L’Arche Village Belfast

Brian Burns, Day Opportunities Leader at L’Arche explained: “Participants have the opportunity to connect, have their worldview expanded, and develop a shared identity; in this way, the facility may help to combat loneliness and increase cohesiveness at a local level. We also anticipate that L’Arche Village will help individuals to nurture their mental health.”  

According to our latest research, over three quarters of people in Northern Ireland feel part of their local community with reducing loneliness and isolation, support for mental health and people caring and looking out for each other were identified as the main priorities. So on this Blue Monday, let’s celebrate the amazing work National Lottery community projects are delivering across Northern Ireland to meet the needs of local people, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players.

If you do find yourself struggling, at any time of the year, reach out to a friend, family member or local organisation or speak to your GP. 

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