Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey, Cllr Cathy Mason, MP Chris Hazzard and representatives from MYMY and the wider project team to discuss the Ardnabannon Centre project

Communities Minister hears of plans for wellbeing centre at Ardnabannon

AN imaginative plan to transform the former outdoor education centre at Ardnabannon has been outlined to Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey.

Local mental health charity MYMY (Mind Your Mate and Yourself) wants to turn the 16-acre site, just outside Castlewellan, into a “person-centred” wellbeing facility offering support to young people and their families. Details of the ambitious proposal for the site first emerged last summer. MYMY want to provide facilities for a raft of services, ranging from additional space for counselling facilities, meeting and workshop space to outdoor areas for activities including horticulture and small-scale agriculture.

Last week’s meeting was hosted by South Down MP Chris Hazzard, who added that the minister was “excited” by the vision laid out by local mental health advocates.

“I was delighted to host theCommunities Minister Deirdre Hargey, alongside my colleague, Cllr Cathy Mason, and representatives from MYMY and the wider project team to discuss the Ardnabannon Centre project, the delivery of which will be a game changer for wellbeing and mental health provision for our local community,” the local MP said following the meeting.

“I was delighted to hear Minister Hargey speak so enthusiastically about Ardnabannon, and the impact that such aproject would have on the wellbeing of ourlocal community, but, perhaps most importantly, we were all delighted to hear that she wants to be a proactive champion for the successful delivery of this vision.

“MYMY and the wider project team have been working selflessly behind the scenes for many months now to ensure that a viable project could be embraced and supported by government departments and their agencies in the time ahead.

“With this in mind we also recently met with the leadership of Newry, Mourne and Down Council, and it too was very positive and hopefully opened the way for a strategic partnership between local and central government in helping to deliver this exciting project as soon as possible.”

MYMY’s co-founder Ray Cunningham spoke to the Mourne Observer earlier this year about the charity’s vision for the site at Ardnabannon.

He explained that since 2017 MYMY has seen the demand for its services triple and the centre, should plans fall into place, would complement the charity’s existing services, only this time reaching out to people at an earlier stage, offering “pre-crisis” help.

Ray explained that its management committee had identified the need for the charity “to put a greater focus on pre-crisis support for all those in our community”.

This support, he outlined, would assist individuals to enhance their own mental health and coping strategies, learn to develop positive behaviours, relationships, and lifestyles, and learn new skills to protect their overall wellbeing. This type of support, he added, is also recognised as being appropriate for those who have successfully come through a life-crisis and who are now seeking to rebuild their lives. The charity’s mission is to provide accessible person-centred care through counselling, education, support and other interventions with the aim of reducing self-destructive behaviours, suicide and poor mental health whilst promoting a holistic approach to health, independence, resiliency and well-being.

“Our vision has, and continues to be, to provide the necessary support services to empower everyone in the Newcastle area and district to enjoy good mental health and wellbeing.”