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A Lifeline during the pandemic

Cloughfin Community Association works for the benefit of local people and provides activities for all ages of people. Activities include dancing classes, crafts and historical projects as well as the promotion of health. The community building - an old primary school - is the only meeting place in this isolated rural area.

The group availed of a Level 2 grant of £10,000 for a project with Paul Tallon of Tallon’s Pharmacy, Sixmilecross. After their previous BCPP project, they realised how indispensable the local Pharmacist is in their community as a first point of contact for health issues. The aim of this BCPP project was to build strong connections within the group and with the Pharmacist and broaden everyone’s knowledge of what support exists in the area.

Initially the group was funded to work with young mums to children under five. However due to the pandemic, However due to the pandemic, Cloughfin Community Association felt that it would be difficult for group members to commit to attending 16 sessions on Zoom. An existing group, ‘Bright Ideas Arts & Crafts’, made up of ladies mostly 60+ who suffered from lack of social contact was interested in a BCPP project. CDHN was happy that the project worked with both groups – delivering eight sessions to each.  At the planning meeting for the ‘Mother & Others’ project, some young mothers were surprised to learn that they could get a grant from Sure Start on the birth of their first child. The fact that they had to find this out from other parents demonstrated the need for this project.

Together with the Pharmacist, the women chose session topics on a range of health issues. These included pharmacy services, sleep deprivation, postnatal depression and access to services. The Red Cross co-facilitated a session with the Pharmacist and the group was introduced to First Aid. Many of the young parents who had been working found themselves alone with children under 5 and no-one to talk to all day - poor mobile phone reception and broadband coverage in the area did not help. The move to Zoom from face to face meetings meant some lost out on the programme but other parents became involved meaning an increase in numbers in the group which was very positive.

The Bright Ideas Group wanted to cover mental health, the importance of sleep and pharmacy services. Joe Donnelly from TAMHI (Tackling Awareness of Mental Health Issues) delivered a session with Paul, the Pharmacist. Sessions were interactive and the Pharmacist often held quizzes which was a great way to share learning and keep everyone engaged.

As a result of the BCPP programme, the Pharmacist built up strong relationships with the participants and has a better knowledge of the problems young parents and older people face both mentally and physically. With the nearest GP practice approximately five miles away, the women now have a better understanding of what the pharmacy can offer and are more confident in their understanding of health issues.

Rosemary McMullen, Cloughfin Community Association felt that this BCPP programme gave the group a great kick-start to take action against the issues which are currently holding them back from enjoying life and having fun with their young children.

Our Facebook page has never been so busy as we share as much as we possibly can. Of course, we just can’t wait for the day when everyone can meet up physically.’ 

Rosemary McMullen, Cloughfin Community Association

I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to avail of the useful and vital information given to us by Paul - not only is it of personal benefit but as I have also been able to pass it on to other family and friends the information is being spread among many other people. Paul imparts the information in ‘plain English’ which gets the message across very effectively."

Marie, Bright Ideas 

With the COVID restrictions, technology played a key role and I felt slightly uneasy delivering sessions via Zoom initially. As the project progressed, I could see the participants interacting, laughing and enjoying the sessions more and more. Participation in this BCPP programme has been a joy for me, I have experienced new learning, formed new friendships and made new contacts.”

Paul Tallon, Pharmacist

The programme is just brilliant, like minded people from all walks of life with one common theme. We are meeting new people and linking in with people we have lost touch with! We are experiencing new things, we are learning, we are laughing and, overall, we are reaching out to each other within our community to either give or get support. I have taken information away which I am using already or will use in the future. It has been fantastic. I am so glad I joined in. I mean every word!”

Elaine, Project Participant