Belfast Exposed Photography applied to Elevate as the programme enabled organisational learning and development through the Mentoring Programme, supporting us to develop our Community Engagement Strategy through Collective action together. Elevate enabled ourselves to further expand and deliver our View Point Mental Health and Well Being programmes by engaging with people whose lives are impacted by poor mental health and who lives are affected by Health inequalities through social conditions and access to both clinical and therapeutic services, to provide longer term engagement with people who through in equalities find it difficult to access services which provide positive impacts on the participants lives.
Our project offered a new sustained mental health and wellbeing programme , which we co designed with people with the lived experience of addictions, PTSD and issues surrounding the legacy of the Troubles which impacted on the mental health of adults in the Greater Lisburn Hilden and Old Warren area these is the most deprived areas in Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council with high rates of Health inequalities.
The Programme was delivered from October 2022 to March 2023 with 50 adults, who lives are impacted through inequality in health social, economic and education leading to high rates of anxiety, depression and addiction issues with the people and communities experiencing cuts to community services removing access to support networks.
In engaging with people who’ lives are impacted with poor mental health the project brought social inclusion to people with poor mental health building new support networks within people and the communities they are from, were previous services were cut or not meeting their needs. Using photography as a catalyst people were able to express their emotion and feelings through their images. The sharing with others through their taken images brought a bond between people who now could share their own stories with each other and through the exhibition of the project share their lives with other creating an equality and greater understanding with others outside the project.
The Elevate mentoring was a huge support to our group. We were able to meet with our mentor (Women Tec) and discuss areas we felt our organization need greater support on who proved invaluable One of these areas was methods of evaluation which would offer great organizational evaluation, participants evaluation a evaluation of the project itself. Our mentor provided us with great insight in both quantitative and qualitative data and how to gather this data and also use this data.
This mentoring enabled our organisation to be more confident in our knowledge moving forward in tackling health inequalities and with our research now be fully able to support our plans and promotion in addressing health inequalities. Through the mentoring our staff gained the skills and knowledge in how to undertake evaluations, prepare evaluation, these skills and knowledge were lacking in our organisation. Through this we were able to build new partnerships not just within our original target communities but expand our service e.g WAVE Trauma Service as we were able to show how our programme benefited people and brought about positive impact on people’s mental health and well-being this provided greater support within the community and voluntary sector enabling people to access Therapeutic services which were not available previously.
Enabled ourselves to gain greater understanding of health inequalities and how to tackle these on a personal level with people and how to tackle these on a community level, all creating equality and positive health impacts on individual people and within communities. We gained the knowledge through collaboration to design support services tailored to each community and increasing health equalities within deprived areas through Therapeutic services.
We now plan to continue to develop and expand our Viewpoint Mental Health and Well Being programme. One area we are looking to expand is our Social Prescription model to reduce Health Inequalities within deprived areas across Northern Ireland. Through this we would offer, create peer to peer support, build networks across communities, photography being the catalyst not only through healing but through promotion and raising awareness to bring about equality
“Elevate has created knowledge, skills and a determination for Belfast Exposed to continue to strive and create equality in Health for everyone.”
Mervyn Smyth, Community Engagement Manager