Our core business as a GAA Club is Gaelic games but we complement this work with a significant investment in celebrating, supporting and improving our local community, heritage, culture and well-being. A crippling health inequality here remains the absence of on-the ground services, supports and facilities to help address our local community health issues. Anything that might be available has always been ‘somewhere else’. We designed and built our Hub in response to those gaps and applied to Elevate for support to help us develop and deliver a community well-being agenda. Crucially, that agenda was one that we designed here and that we feel fitted us/our circumstances. Having been a mentee in 20/21 I was also able to apply my learning from having previously taking part in the Elevate Programme to support us to develop this agenda for our 22/23 Project.
‘Folláine do Chill Dreasa | Healthy Kildress’ was a varied programme of well-being talks and events, aimed at all ages and delivered in our Hub building. We also used some of the money for small but very practical, pragmatic capital items.
Folláine do Chill Dreasa was largely about leaving our people better informed about well-being, whilst improving their self-esteem and personal and community confidence. We wanted to bring well-being issues and an overall ‘health conversation’ into the mainstream of local community life, rather than leaving them as ‘detached issues/concerns, to be dealt with somewhere else by someone else’. That’s been the traditional reality here. We also wanted to reduce people’s need to travel elsewhere for supports. We think we achieved all of these outcomes.
The mentoring was very useful because it was a good ‘confidence booster’ to hear that what we were doing was good and fit-for-purpose. It was delivered in a style that fitted very well with our rural community culture here. It kept us in line with good practice and connected us with other groups/initiatives whose projects also had a focus on improving wellbeing.
One other positive outcome is that we hope to maintain a link with Aidan from ARC Healthy Living Centre and have him deliver information sessions/workshops on drug and alcohol education to our members. We feel that making this connection with Aidan and ARC is real, practical, and very effective joined-up-working in action. By taking part in the Elevate Project it reaffirmed for us that our approach is a very valid one, which is very important for building confidence in a Club like ours where a lot of this work is ‘new’. Very importantly, it told us all that in clear, down-to-earth language, and with no patronising behaviour.
"In the future we want to continue to do more of the same. That may sound boring and even unambitious, but when you start from a zero (or even minus) base as we have here (alongside too many other rural communities) in that broad community well-being area, then a few years of new, but steady-as-she-goes, supports is precisely what our community needs. We received great feedback about our our Elevate-funded Nollaig na mBan Project; for example a comment on our Facebook page read ‘Great evening, well done and thank you to everyone involved. That same Facebook post had a 2,788 ‘Reach’, 1,712 ‘Engagements’, and 106 ‘Likes’. Not bad in a community of 2,500 (when we’re all at home). Take a bow Elevate! Nár laga Dia do lámh."
Mark Conway, Kildress Wolfe Tones GAA Club Trustee