West Belfast community come together to support mental health charity

By Orlaith Clinton

A new mental health facility is weeks away from opening - and a community effort is speeding up the process.

The West Belfast Sports Wellbeing Forum has recently secured a premises where they will offer counselling and support services for those in need.

And without the help of local tradesmen and businesses, their vision may not be nearing completion so soon.

Speaking to Belfast Live, co-founder Desy Jones said: "Myself and Gerard both founded West Belfast Sports Wellbeing Forum. I have worked in suicide prevention for years doing crisis intervention and delivering training programmes. We both coached football for years and that is where this has come from.

"This will be opened in the Dairyfarm to everyone, sports teams, friends, families. If someone comes in here, they are never going to be turned away.

Gerard and Desy have secured a premises in the Dairyfarm (Justin Kernoghan)

"You can be brought into us through a family or friend or walk through our doors. We'll have our numbers out and about. Every club will have our details and we will also put them everywhere else - GP surgeries etc. For this area, that's what we want - instant help.

"We have linked up with EMERGE counselling services, and they have 50 counsellors there who are going to be positioned here full time all week so there is access to immediate counselling when we need it.

"Friends and family have been amazing. Other people seen us on social media and got in touch. Tilers, roofers, joiners - all got in touch to offer their assistance for free. Even a man who came in to do the fire safety check didn't charge us.

"Mandy Copeland, the centre manager at Dairyfarm Shopping Centre and Sean Goal from Ortus have helped us from the start in securing this location.

Gerard Mallon said they have been blown away by the support they've received so far, whether is money, time or just well wishes.

Gerard Mallon at the new spot (Justin Kernoghan)

He said the community spirit and togetherness has helped them achieve what they have already.

"We have to thank those who have helped us here. From the materials which came from Steven Mallon from Century Electrical Wholesale and Eamonn McCormac from Plumbmaster PH Ladas Drive.

"Benny Miskelly from PWC gifted us all the office desks and chairs. Conor Mallon, Paul McCrystal, Conor Linden, Tony McQuaid, Micky Crossan and Gerard Kelly have offered their free time as joiners, plumbers and electricians.

"Sean Smyth from Eimears Wish has kindly teamed up with us and giving us the profit from 200 bottles of the fabulous Eimears Wish Gin. And then there has been donations through our Go Fund Me link too - and some big donations there. Kilwee Celts have also donated to the forum.

Materials have been donated by generous businesses (Justin Kernoghan)

"Michael Conlan has supported us and we are so grateful for that support. Paddy from Necto Recruitment, the team at Urban Fire, Michael Donnelly from Accident Assist NI, Brian Canavan, Davy Kearns from Media Nerds, Phil Brown our Mental Health Champion and presenter of Beyond the Pitch podcast - everyone has been incredible.

"Our member clubs Immaculata FC, Cathal Brugha Water Polo, Divis Bowling Club, Willowbank and AFC Stranmillis have also been brilliant. We can't thank them enough."

For more information on the West Belfast Sports Wellbeing Forum, please visit their Twitter here or Instagram here.


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