I’m sure you, as most people living in New Lodge, Ardoyne, and indeed North Belfast may be finding it stressful and difficult living in these unprecedented times with COVID-19 and the challenges that this pandemic is bringing to our lives. Restricted to staying in your house and not travelling as much can be stressful. Increasing social isolation, increased debt concerns, worry as to what the future will hold, and not getting out and about as much as usual, can impact on our wellbeing. You may be drinking a bit more, smoking a bit more, overeating and not exercising as much. All these circumstances bring their own challenges and stresses and are a major factor in your personal health and wellbeing both physically and mentally.

Therefore, what can you do to elevate these stresses and strains? Ashton Community Trust’s fantastic new innovative programme is currently recruiting voluntary community Champions and Befrienders to make a difference. If you live in the Greater Ardoyne or New Lodge areas and are interested in giving up a few hours per week of your time, you could play an active role in supporting existing services to address Health and Wellbeing needs. Also, Champions and Befrienders will assist the community partners YeHa and Lighthouse with numerous community engagement and Health and Wellbeing initiatives.

To support your undertaking in this great opportunity you will receive bespoke training before carrying out any programme activities. It is envisioned that training will be provided in a context that will increase your knowledge, awareness, and understanding of the linkages between individuals’ health and well-being concerns.

The training programme will increase your understanding of the area based challenges concerning health but other determinants of wellbeing related to education, crime, service access, housing, transport, infrastructure, and highly personal issues like debt management, mental health awareness, drugs & alcohol addiction, safeguarding adults and children, and provide you with the skills and capacity to engage more effectively with the wider community on health and wellbeing issues and to gain the ability to signpost people to relevant support and statutory services where appropriate.

Accredited training to a maximum of £500, can be accessed if Ashton can demonstrate that the training will assist the Champions & Befrienders to support the needs of those in the community.

If interested, please contact paul.barton@ashtoncentre.com

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