We were delighted to launch our new Wellbeing Support Service at the Four Winds Hotel on the 6 April. Our charity, which operates throughout Northern Ireland was awarded a generous £599, 977 funding from the Big Lottery Fund Empowering Young People Programme.

Our Wellbeing Service will now be able to help more than 425 young people during the five year programme.

We support children and young people who haven’t had a fair deal in life; providing them with supported housing and floating support services, to name just a few. The new Wellbeing Service is specifically for young people who have been experiencing low mood, self-harm or thoughts of suicide. It offers extensive opportunities for participants to develop coping mechanisms; become involved in their communities; access training and employment, whilst being young and having fun.

We are looking forward to seeing the difference this project makes to these young people to help improve their self-esteem, social and communication skills, and build relationships. I want to say thanks to all the National Lottery players who have helped make this work possible.

Joanne McDowell, Big Lottery Fund NI Director

Guests at the launch heard how various aspects of the new service will be delivered to young people in Belfast, Lisburn, Newry, Downpatrick and surrounding areas.

It has been great to see the work MACS has planned to tackle the growing trend of children and young people with significant mental health problems, including depression, self-harm, loneliness and substance abuse. They are a great charity whose mentoring and support services are highly regarded by the young people and health care professionals; I’d urge anyone with a few hours a week, to volunteer with MACS.

Guest Speaker, Robbie Butler, MLA and UUP spokesperson on mental health

We are so grateful to the The Big Lottery Fund as we can now offer an ambitious programme of support. A good example of this ambition is MACS’ mentoring service:

Many of our young people have had few positive influences in their lives so far. Early on, our young people are matched with a volunteer mentor of their choice, often socialising and trying new things together. Eventually, many of our young people will, themselves, become mentors to their peers.

As an NCVO accredited charity, we offer them excellent mentorship training and they gain as much confidence and self-worth from giving support as in receiving it.

During the launch event, guests took part in a series of roundtable workshops. They were able to meet some mentors with their mentees; hear from the Big Lottery Fund Steering group and make suggestions of how the programme could be developed further. On top of all this, MACS also launched our Annual Report.

Robyn McCollum, Scott Irvine and Mary Ryan CEO of MACS Supporting children and Young People.
Robyn McCollum, Scott Irvine & Mary Ryan CEO of MACS

So, a busy day for MACS and a busy five years ahead!