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Rural Health Partnership and Northern Pharmacies

Building and strengthening relationships

The Rural Health Partnership has 30 years of experience in working at grassroots levels in community development and health projects and has a good working knowledge of the issues for men in this local area.

For this Level 2 BCPP Project, the group partnered with Pharmacist Emer Geoghegan from Northern Pharmacies, Cullyhanna who led the project. The project goal was to work with a group of 15 men aged between 30-55 to build confidence, self-esteem and social capacity.

A lot of young men in the community are very involved in the local football club. Through this they are regularly training and playing matches which leads to a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and a healthy diet. However, once these men “pass their playing days” they tend to miss out on this important aspect of their life. They go from exercising two to three times a week to perhaps not getting any exercise at all. This can also lead to a change in their diet resulting in a less healthy lifestyle overall with many developing mental health issues. These mental health illnesses in turn impact on weight and other health issues such as cardiovascular disease.

Teresa Nugent, Rural Health Partnership, said “As a group, we wanted to give these men something to focus on. We did this by promoting activities that they could become involved in and therefore improved their lifestyle as a whole.”

Pharmacist Emer Geoghegan said “Participants have a much greater knowledge of where to go if they have a question about their health. They have got to know me and now think it is less daunting to approach me for help. I now know more of the men in the local area who previously wouldn’t have visited the pharmacy, so I now understand their needs, especially their reluctance to see their GP. 

Teresa Nugent, Rural Health Partnership, said, “The most positive aspects to date are that men are willing to look at their behaviour and ask for help. The community physical activity event was a huge success and it was the men/fathers who took the lead role which led to families and children getting involved. It really demonstrated the fathers as good role models and showing positive learned patterns of behaviour.”

One of the partners they linked up with was PIPS Newry and Mourne who delivered a suicide safer community workshop to help people identify the risks of suicide and how to use the appropriate vocabulary and intervention skills. This provided an ideal opportunity to give men permission to talk about their emotional and mental wellbeing in a safe environment.

Topics included:

  • Alcohol and Drug Awareness
  • Physical Activity
  • Weight Loss
  • Understanding Food
  • Mental Health
  • Cancer Awareness
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Care in the Sun

“This project has allowed us to build on and strengthen our relationship with Rural Health Partnership. A running group has been formed in the village which is improving the health and fitness of the local community not just the target group in this project. It has therefore had a lasting effect, not just on the participants, but on the whole community. The men in the group now have a better understanding of how to go about their daily life in a healthier way. They have more options for exercise and know more about a balanced diet and how to fit this in around other aspects of their life such as family, work, etc.

Emer Geoghegan, Pharmacist