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Fermanagh Sports & Cultural Awareness Association and Village Pharmacy

The Pharmacy - an integral part of healthcare provision

Fermanagh Sports & Cultural Awareness Association offers training and opportunities such as health projects and peace building activities and is based in Ballinamallard, an area of rural deprivation and isolation.

The Association had previously been awarded £2,500 for a Level One BCPP project which had a positive impact on the psychological wellbeing of the members. They then felt more knowledgeable and confident to apply for a Level Two BCPP grant of £10,000 in this round of funding.

This BCPP project worked with 14 men aged 50 plus, some of whom had mental and physical health issues along with feeling socially isolated. Due to the small number of participants and the already well-founded relationships from the previous BCPP project, the men felt safe when discussing what were sometimes very personal issues. The sessions consisted of a range of health based seminars and activities that would help improve the health of the group members.  With the understanding that poor lifestyles were responsible for a high proportion of chronic diseases, other organisations including AWARE NI, NI Chest, Heart and Stroke and Diabetes UK presented at the sessions outlining the support they could provide to the men. Sessions on healthy eating, exercise and cooking were also delivered to the group.

Through the project, the health literacy of the participants was improved as well as their understanding of how social factors, for example, money worries, housing and stress can influence health. The sessions also made the men more confident to self manage their health. During the Programme, the Pharmacist was available for one to one support and sessions on medicines management, repeat dispensing and health checks. The fact that there is no GP surgery in Ballinamallard reiterated the importance of the pharmacy in the area. The Pharmacist found that after being involved in BCPP projects, he has a better understanding of the context and conditions of people’s lives and factors that influence health. He has also seen the pharmacy being better utilised and viewed as an integral part of healthcare provision.

The men who were involved in the project found that when they met and engaged with others in similar circumstances, it reduced feelings of self blame and hopelessness. The men realised they were not alone and they had support to make small changes in their health and wellbeing and the opportunity to address bigger issues together as part of the group. John Quinn, Project Officer with Fermanagh Sports & Cultural Awareness Association, told us ‘We are delighted with the support we have received from BCPP which has meant we have been able to build successfully on our Phase 1 project.

The men have really benefitted from the varied workshops, both the information received and the social interaction. They feel more confident to approach Thomas and the others in the pharmacy around health issues.’ Raymond Dowdalls, owner of the Village Pharmacy, was heavily involved in planning the BCPP programme and was a key member of the project. Raymond said ‘Our community pharmacy prides itself on being an integral part of the community, going to football matches together and even sharing my personal health journey with the men. The BCPP project gave us a great opportunity to interact with local people and we are now their first port of call when they have an ailment or need advice.’

I thoroughly enjoyed the informative health talks delivered by our local Pharmacist in an informal relaxed manner. They highlighted the need for us to take ownership of our health. I feel now that it is easier to talk to Thomas, our Pharmacist and have approached him for advice many times already.

Project Participant

The project has definitely helped me to engage more with the local community.  I really look forward to the sessions as there is now a trust between us and everyone contributes well. I find the men will now call with me to seek help and advice.

Thomas Knox, Pharmacist