The Public Health Agency (PHA), the Community Development & Health Network (CDHN) and community partners gathered on Monday at Lislagan farm, Ballymoney, to celebrate their achievements and share their learning to mark the end of the fourth successful Elevate Community Mentoring Programme.
With funding support from the PHA, CDHN has worked with community partners, to develop and deliver the Elevate community capacity building and a small grants programme to 97 local projects totalling £419,000. Over the last four years, almost 1,000 people participated in training on Health Inequalities and Community Development across Northern Ireland.
Diane McIntyre, Interim Head of Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement, PHA, congratulated the 22 groups involved in the 2022-23 programme and said, “Addressing health inequalities is one of the main focuses of the PHA and the Elevate programme is playing a part in the effective delivery of this aim within local communities. The support from the mentors in growing the strong community development infrastructure on the ground, and the dedicated work of the mentees has brought the programme to life and is making change happen.
Patricia Harte, Training and Development Officer, CDHN, said, “We are delighted with another successful year of the Elevate Community Mentoring and Grants Programme. As with previous years, our mentees have demonstrated amazing dedication, passion, and drive to use their grants and the learning from the programme, to help them directly address the health inequalities faced by people in their community. They have engaged in mentoring support with our established community mentor organisations: ARC Healthy Living Centre, Clanrye Group, Co Down Rural Community Network (CDRCN), Mid and East Antrim Agewell Partnership (MEAAP), Supporting Communities NI and Women’s Tec. Each organisation provided their mentee groups with the time and space to reflect on their community development practice and identify areas they can build on for the benefit of the communities they support. Once again, our mentors have been fantastic this year and provided tailored guidance and support to their mentee groups”.
Allan Reid, Health Development Worker at Peninsula Healthy Living Partnership and mentee, commented, “The Elevate programme has provided Peninsula Healthy Living Partnership with the opportunity to run a programme that our small community needed. From an uncomplicated application process, the amazing help of our mentor organisation and the training provided on health inequalities, we were able to really learn and provide what our area wanted. The mentor organisation were amazing in helping us bring our ideas to life whilst allowing reflection on how we have helped reduce inequalities at the local level.”
Aidan Ormsby, Operations Manager of ARC Health Living Centre, shared his experiences as a mentor organisation for the Elevate programme, “This has been an excellent opportunity to share knowledge, skills and experiences with a diverse range of mentee organisations. Elevate has enabled 1:1 interaction and supported all our groups to collaborate, ensuring the enhancement of our networks and skill sets for the betterment of our communities.
Aidan was delighted to attend the celebration, adding, “Elevate provides a listening ear and practical intervention to allow groups to maximise opportunities”.
Patrick Toland, CEO of Northern Ireland Rare Disease Partnership (NIRDP) and mentee, commended the Elevate programme on how it has enhanced their work and has enabled NIRDP to “make a tangible difference in helping real people, with real problems that will help us build for the future”.
Anne Laird-Arnold, Chair and Ursula Donnelly, Fundraiser of Jam’ N’ Ire, highlighted the positive impact that the £5,000 funding has had on their project in providing invaluable support and social opportunities to children of mixed ethnic heritage, which they added is the only group in the UK to deliver this support.
Joanne Vance, Director of CDHN, closed the event, reflecting on the opportunities for the mentee and mentors to network and collaborate over the past four years. She thanked each project for their hard work and for demonstrating their commitment to building equality and social justice in their communities. Joanne also expressed her gratitude to the PHA Health Improvement Team for its strategic role in promoting cross-sectoral partnerships across government departments. She continued “each local project has achieved something special, and when we bring the work of all the projects together, we have made a difference to around 3,500 people. Through the Elevate partnership, we are creating something more significant than the sum of its parts. We need to tap into the power of our networks to face the challenges ahead”.