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Milburn Community Development Ltd and Henderson’s Pharmacy, Coleraine

Exploring talents and skills with each other

Millburn Community Development Ltd is a voluntary organisation which works for the benefit of the local community. To provide and continually develop the facilities it has, the services to the local residents, the programmes, projects and opportunities. Based in a community office where their programmes are run, including; Youth Clubs, Over 50`s Club, Social activities, educational projects, Well Being projects, sporting activities and Luncheon Clubs. They run an award-winning social enterprise Cafe and Salon for the benefit of the local community.

Poor physical health, and mental wellbeing is a problem in deprived communities which is identified as a strategic theme in the Causeway Coast and Glens Councils Framework for tackling Deprivation. Millburn falls within its top 20% most deprived within the Causeway Coast and Glens District Area. The Estate Millburn comes under DFC Neighbourhood Renewal as an area of deprivation and has 3 output census areas in the top 30% most deprived communities. Over the years the Millburn Estate has been an area of high unemployment which has had a negative effect on the area, with anti-social behaviour, drug dependency and alcohol abuse being on the increase.

This has led to increased isolation of the elderly and vulnerable as they feel disconnected from the community through fear of going out. This has resulted in many feeling depressed, anxious, isolated and having poor physical health and mental wellbeing. The project participants come from 3 surrounding areas within Coleraine, with 50% coming from Millburn, 20% from Ballysally and 30% from Harpurs Hill. The need for the project arose from bringing a group of elderly residents together post Covid and during the energy crisis by providing them with a warm space within the community and having engaged with them, it highlighted theirs feelings and issues with health and well-being and the fears that they live with.

MCD Ltd started their 4th BCPP project working with the group of ladies that they brought together on the back of social isolation issues through the effects of the Covid pandemic. The ladies group called the Jolly Dollies met weekly and were believed to have been a perfect fit for this project as we know what benefits it has for participants through our experience of previous project delivery.

Having worked with our local pharmacist Evan Reid over the years on our many projects. It is always a pleasure delivering some fantastic workshops for our community in partnership with him. Creating programs and services for our community will assist our beneficiaries to be able to find the community support to ensure that daily pressures on families are reduced to help people cope easier that's what this project enables us to do effectively. - Billy Ellis/ Millburn Community development Ltd

It was a privilege to be so quickly welcomed into such a well established group and to have great fun and banter with the group members. This building up of relationships allowed participants to be relaxed and resulted in many occasions where folks willingly shared real issues affecting their lives. Being open about struggles and conservations about mental health challenges. My time with this group was a great experience and although I may have been there as an 'educator', I personally learnt so much. Thank you. - Evan Reid/ Community Pharmacist

After the project application was successful, MCD Ltd quickly readied the group and they started without delay. The project used arts and crafts sessions, cook it, sewing , knitting and crochet as the carrot to engage the participants and with of course a light lunch after the sessions. Then their secret weapon Evan Reid the local pharmacist was on hand to engage in lively debate and talks in between activities.

The group took part in many activities learning new skills, each week along with Evan taking part in all he became a dab hand at stone art and flower arranging using a pumpkin as the vase as well as many other skills. The group had a trip to the Causeway Coast organised by Evan, to learn about the ancient history which was educational as well as seeing glorious views that made your heart beat faster. The final trip saw the group along with Evan travel to Belfast to the Christmas Panto which myself, the ladies and Evan really enjoyed "oh yes we did". These outings gave Evan a chance on the journey, to chat to the women on a 1-1 basis on health issues that were concerning them.

The BCPP projects we now deliver in our community are very much needed and they are life changing to some families being able to offload some of the stresses in life through good project delivery and is making so much difference in community all over. Some of the ladies have remarked how this project has made them feel so much better about themselves; the learning, the support and the aftercare of the friendships they have made is all down to this funding. The really telling thing about the project is that the participants recognise the really beneficial effect the projects has in the pharmacist and his obvious enjoyment with them all.