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Celebrations for another year of the Elevate programme…

Elevate was delighted to celebrate its third successful year of the Community Mentoring & Grants programme at an event on 20 May 2022 in Glenavon House Hotel, Cookstown. Last year, 23 groups were successful and received training on community development and health inequalities, mentoring support from an experienced organisation in their area and a grant of up to £5,000 to bring their project to life!

The Public Health Agency (PHA) commissioned Community Development & Health Network (CDHN) to develop and deliver this programme of support for the community, voluntary and public sectors. Elevate is funded by the PHA through the Transformation Work Stream.

The mentors across each Trust area were Mid and East Antrim Agewell Partnership (MEAAP), Co Down Rural Community Network (CDRCN), ARC Healthy Living Centre, Bolster community and Women’s Tec. With the support of these established mentoring organisations, the mentee groups developed local projects using community development approaches to reduce health inequalities.

Mentor Helen Kerr, Business Development Manager, Women’s Tec supported four mentees in the Belfast trust area, collaborating with them to develop and enhance their community development practice to address health inequalities in their area. They were Northern Ireland Rare Disease Partnership, Horn of Africa People's Aid Northern Ireland, Greater Shankill Job Assist Centre and Polish Sisterhood.

Helen spoke at the celebration event saying ‘there was such a genuine passion, commitment and will to make a difference within the Elevate programme with everyone working together.’

Leona Bradley, The Churches Trust, an interdenominational organisation  in Derry/North West and surrounding area was one of the mentees in this year’s Elevate programme. The Churches Trust was established by the leaders of Christian Churches to respond to deprivation in the area supporting local people in crisis addressing deprivation and social justice.

Leona was delighted to attend the event and talk about the difference that Elevate had made to her group saying, ‘The project supported excluded young people to participate in a resilience programme as well as developing a Health Inequalities strategy for the organisation.’  Leona continued ‘We were delighted to tap into the experience and knowledge of CDHN and the Elevate team in developing the strategy – Elevate really was a wraparound service with support, opportunities to collaborate, training and, of course, the mentoring.’

Billy Millar, Brookville Enterprises, a community development group that promotes the redevelopment and revitalisation of Mid Antrim area, also presented at the event. The Scullery O’Tullagh allotment project involved a series of sessions delivered at Tullygarley Allotments, engaging participants both young and old and empowering local communities to improve their health and wellbeing. ‘Capacity building and community development – that’s what we are all about, I would encourage anyone to take up the opportunities offered within the Elevate programme’ said Billy.

Gary Day from Garden of Music, a community music organisation, highlighted the importance of music to those living with dementia and how the Elevate programme had helped him develop their project ‘Playlist for Life.’  Gary spoke of the impact that music can have on health and wellbeing, referring to Roehampton University’s Sounds of Intent research which discovered that use of music in dementia care home settings had led to a reduction in the use of medication, with one home reporting a 60% reduction.

Janelle Clegg, Senior Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Officer at PHA said: “The Community Mentoring and Grants Programme provides a unique opportunity to put collective learning about health inequalities into practice in a supportive environment. It is encouraging to see the wide range of organisations that have taken part in this year’s Community Mentoring and Grants Programme and hear about the differences they are making at a local level within their communities.”

Helen McLaughlin, Training & Development Manager with CDHN was delighted with the event and the success of this year’s programme saying, ‘Our Elevate participants have been fantastic as usual, with enthusiastic participation in training from both public sector and VCSE colleagues, and really deep learning and development for the groups who took part in the Community Mentoring and Grants Programme.’  

Helen continued ‘Yet again, the groups have told us about how Elevate has helped deepen their understanding of the possibilities that community development offers for addressing health inequalities on the ground. For many, tackling health inequalities is now seen as an essential component of their community development work. Huge thanks go to PHA for funding the programme, to our five fabulous mentor organisations, to the Elevate team and, most importantly, to all our participants.’

For further information, please contact Helen McLaughlin on 028 3026 4606 or email