Extern has launched a new community directory for the East Antrim 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/communities-in-transition-larne-carrick-shankill contains listings of a wide range of local services in the Carrickfergus and Larne 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: “Extern’s latest advice booklet offers details of services right across the Larne and Carrickfergus 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.

“Extern has worked hard to keep our doors open throughout the pandemic and we have seen at first-hand how the impact of the past year on people’s mental and physical health has been profound. We also know it 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 Larne and Carrick communities 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 66-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 Larne and Carrickfergus, and the Greater Shankill in Belfast. It is funded by The Executive Office & managed by Co-operation Ireland.

From The Executive Office, Junior Minister Gary Middleton 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. Those we would normally turn to for advice and guidance are no longer close by. The Community Directory aims to plug this gap for those living in the East Antrim area.”

Junior Minister Declan Kearney said: “Having recently met with the Carrick & Larne Delivery Partners, this resource reflects the vital work the Communities in Transition Programme is delivering. The Community Directory Guide is an easily accessible and valuable handbook containing much needed health and wellbeing advice and signposting services."

"The reality of life at the moment is that many are struggling with a range of issues. While I hope people won’t need it, this directory is a reminder that help is often at hand within the community. No one should have to face their challenges alone.”

The directory – which will also be distributed to the local community in print - 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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