Belfast women set sights on £20K fundraiser for mental health hub

Posted: 1st August 2022

Two West Belfast women have put their efforts into fundraising for a community hub which helps those struggling with their mental health.

West Wellbeing, based in the Dairyfarm, is a suicide prevention and counselling service for men, women and children across Northern Ireland. The charity relies on community funding to support their services and say they have been blown away by the support they have received.

But as more people learn of their outstanding work, West Wellbeing has seen an increase in those seeking their services and are hoping to expand their building.

Ciara Bennett and Johanna Skillen both share similar passions to those behind West Wellbeing. Having become closer while studying a counselling course with SERC, the pair have now gone on to raise over £11,000 for West Wellbeing – with no plans to stop at that.

Speaking to Belfast Live, Ciara said: “I work in a community centre in Poleglass, so it was people coming in and out of there that were talking about West Wellbeing. Gerard Mallon then came in and told us about their services, and that is how I really first got involved.

“It is in the local area too, which makes what they are doing more close to home. You are naturally going to be more passionate about something that is nearby. They rely on donations, so the community has to get together.

“I have worked with people who have suffered with their mental health, and it is close to my heart. They have no waiting list and nobody is turned away – that is unheard of.”

Johanna opened up about losing her sister and brother to suicide and how she is now helping others as a ‘befriender’ within West Wellbeing.

“Anything mental health related, I would have got invovled with because of my losses. There was never anything like this in the Colin area, so it was a no brainer to help them out.

“I know so many people who have been affected by mental health, it is unreal. It makes such a difference, their approach. Walking in, you are made to feel so welcome and that is huge.

“If people are vulnerable, walking in those doors is a big step. Asking for help is extremely hard and honestly, the first time I walked in, you felt that warmth.”

Ciara and Johanna now plan to raise £20,000 for West Wellbeing through various challenges – some more outgoing than others. They have walked on fire, broke arrows in half with their necks and climbed Snowdonia, with other events planned for the coming weeks and months.

They said the generosity of people in the community has been incredible. In times where people are struggling financially, Johanna says people still find ways to help their cause, something they’ll always be grateful for.

“People want to help, they just don’t know how,” she added.

“Desy, Gerard and Karen are angels. They are salt of the earth and we just want to help them as much as possible because by doing this, we are helping them to help others. We should all be supporting them.

“Setting off, we never thought we would reach £11,000 and we want to raise more with other fundraisers. We are planning to climb Slieve Donard and would love others to get invovled too.

“West Wellbeing is genuine and they really care. That’s why it works. They get the people and that is why people are drawn to them.”

Source: Belfast women set sights on £20K fundraiser for mental health hub – Belfast Live

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