18 March 2021

Extern has launched a new community directory for the Greater Shankill area which contains information on where and how people can access help around a wide range of issues, including poor mental health, problem drug or alcohol use, loneliness, and family breakdown.

Extern’s Community Resource Guide, which is available online at www.extern.org or by clicking here, contains listings of a wide range of local services in the Greater Shankill area, across the statutory, community, and charitable and voluntary sectors.

The easy to access guide provides details of where people facing mental health difficulties may access support, as well as details of parenting groups, gyms, GP surgeries and places of worship, among others.

Extern Project Manager, Sharon Smith, said: “This booklet offers details of services right across the Greater Shankill area, as well as contact details and opening hours. It is very simple to navigate and also offers information and tips on how to stay healthy, both mentally and physically. From services, including who to contact for local counselling advice, to contact info for your local pharmacy or where to find your nearest gym – we have you covered.

“The impact of the past year on people’s mental and physical health has been profound, and will continue to have an effect for some time to come. That’s why this directory is needed now more than ever.

“We know things have been very difficult for many people recently, but there is a lot of help out there and this directory can empower the local community to find it. We hope that people will find both it, and our already existing factsheets, a valuable resource, and would urge anyone who needs support to contact any of our wide range of projects, details of which are available on Extern’s website.”

The 53-page booklet has been specially created by Extern’s Communities in Transition project, which works collaboratively with existing community-based projects to deliver a health and well-being project across the Greater Shankill area in Belfast, as well as Larne and Carrickfergus.

Funded by The Executive Office & managed by Co-operation Ireland, the programme aims to target individuals, who are vulnerable to the influences of paramilitarism and coercive control.

The Communities in Transition Project is a key element of the community focused strand of the Executive’s Action Plan on Tackling Paramilitary Activity, Criminality and Organised Crime. The Action Plan recognises that there is no single solution to these issues and that community based initiatives, such as the Communities in Transition Project, which seek to empower and build resilient communities, are a vital element of achieving a lasting impact.

From The Executive Office, Junior Minister Gordon Lyons said: “The pandemic has had an isolating effect on so many of us. This has disrupted not only our social networks but also, perhaps more importantly, our support networks. The Community Directory aims to plug this gap for those living in the Greater Shankill area, and brings together a wealth of useful information."

"I commend all those involved in bringing it together, and the organisations who continue to offer support during uncertain times. Through a focus on health and well-being, this project is stepping into the space that negative influences within our community can often try to occupy to exert their control over the most vulnerable.”

Junior Minister Declan Kearney said: “This resource reflects the vital work the Communities in Transition Project is delivering. The Community Resource Guide is an easily accessible and valuable handbook containing much needed health and wellbeing advice and signposting services."

"The past year has brought additional challenges and projects such as this are vital in reaching out with support for the most vulnerable. This directory is a valuable resource and a reminder to those who need it that they are not alone. Through this intervention, the Communities in Transition project is supporting local communities and amplifying the range of services available to people.”

The directory follows the recent publication of a range of helpful factsheets by the project. These colourful and easy to read resources – which are also available from www.extern.org - offer practical advice and useful information on how to cope with a variety of issues, including problematic drug and alcohol use and depression, as well as providing words of comfort and ideas for finding positive solutions to challenges in your life.

For further details on Extern’s range of health and well-being services, please visit www.extern.org. For latest updates on our services, and advice on mental health, you can also follow Extern’s social media channels by searching for @externcharity.


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