Another successful year and a new manager for Elevate!

Dr Helen McLaughlin has recently joined Community Development & Health Network (CDHN) as Training & Development Manager with responsibility for the PHA-funded Elevate Programme. Having previously been Co-ordinator at NICVA for the Transformative Leadership Programme, most of Helen’s work over the last 25 years has been undertaken as an independent consultant offering training, strategic planning, research and evaluation, largely to voluntary and community organisations.

Helen has a special interest in collaboration within and across sectors and is particularly passionate about the use of participative democracy processes as a means to increase the voice of people and communities in addressing the issues that affect their lives.

I am delighted to be working with our CDHN team on the Elevate Programme. Elevate is totally unique in its layered approach to supporting community groups and colleagues from the public sector who are working within communities to reduce health inequalities.

The Elevate programme offers training on Health Inequalities and Community Development, and a portal with information, case studies and research accessible to all. We offer targeted mentoring support with a grant to local groups working to address local health inequalities. We work in partnership with the PHA and colleagues across the public and Community and Voluntary Sector to support our shared strategic focus of working together to end health inequalities

Helen McLaughlin, Training & Development Manager, Community Development & Health Network (CDHN)

The Elevate Programme, developed and delivered by CDHN, is fast approaching the end of its third year. Training has been delivered to 672 participants across all Trust areas from both the community and public sector, 79 mentee groups have been supported by our partner mentor organisations with over £300,000 in grants awarded. The map here gives an overview of the Elevate Training and Community Mentoring & Grants Programme from 2019-2022.

The next round of the Elevate Community Mentoring and Grants programme will be announced in April and promoted widely across all Trust areas in NI. You can read about two fantastic projects supported by Elevate in this current year below.

Northern Ireland Rare Disease Partnership (NIRDP)

The Northern Ireland Rare Disease Partnership was formed in 2012 and advocates, connects educates and innovates on behalf of the Rare Disease community. Their virtual hub supports those living with, and caring for, people with challenging and complex medical needs. One of the aims of the Elevate Mentoring and Grant support was to enhance the Partnership’s social media presence in order to encourage the establishment of an All-Party Working Group for Rare Diseases at Stormont. With the help of Women’sTec, their Mentor, NIRDP has reviewed and improved its social media presence to create awareness and generate support for a voice in the NI Assembly for the Rare Disease community in NI. As a result, NIRDP held a Rare Disease All Party Group Scoping meeting on 26 January with a number of MLAs with firm plans to establish an All-Party Working Group.

Brookville Enterprises

Brookville Enterprises is a social enterprise group located in Ballymena with its ‘Plot to Plate’ project based in the Scullery O’ Tullagh allotment. The project provides intergenerational classes where local people learn to sow vegetables and plants and are taught by the chef how to turn this produce into delicious meals. The Chair, Billy Millar, told us that they have more people wanting to become part of the project and have linked up with other groups in the area to promote it. Participants have remarked on the positive impact the project is having on their mental health and wellbeing and the new friendships they have made through attending the allotment. The Elevate mentoring support from Mid & East Antrim Agewell Partnership (MEAAP) has enabled the group to link with other social enterprise gardens and has supported the Board with ongoing development and governance.