The Begin Together Community Fund, in partnership with The Community Foundation for Ireland, supports charities and not for profit groups working to improve the financial, physical and mental wellbeing of the communities they serve. The 2021 round of community funding has now been awarded to projects that will make a real difference across the island of Ireland.
Details of all the successful 2021 projects can be found below:
Advice NI, via the Digi Money project, offers financial wellbeing advice to migrant communities. Ten Digi Money champions from within migrant communities complete their training and then plan, prepare, and deliver financial wellbeing sessions within their communities. Translated into the languages of the migrant communities, the Digital Money champions, working in pairs, deliver workshops locally. Topics include what is a digital champion, staying safe online, engaging & inspiring learners, supporting a learner remotely, and what is financial wellbeing.
Changing Gears is an initiative designed to support members of the travelling community to embrace the ageing process and build resilience to support them during this time of transition. A series of six two-hour workshops will build confidence, develop interpersonal skills, and support mental health through mindfulness and intergenerational support. Age & Opportunity developed Changing Gears as a resource to promote mental health and wellbeing through focusing on resilience and developing skills for dealing with transition life events.
Age NI aims to make Northern Ireland a great place to grow older. The Check-in and Chat service is for people aged 70+ who are living alone and experiencing isolation or loneliness and aims to provide friendship and connection for them. Trusted volunteers provide a regular, friendly, listening ear and connection to the community, and an important safety net to identify the need for more specialist support. The Begin Together grant will fund recruitment, training, and support of 20 volunteers, as well as ongoing advice and support, resulting in 20 more people who will receive the services for six months.
Alone is a charity which works across Ireland to support older people to age at home. This project, which will be delivered in North Dublin city and county, aims to enable the physical and mental wellbeing of older people by getting them physically and socially active. For ten weeks, 35 older people will take part in a weekly exercise class followed by afternoon tea, where they can chat with the other participants.
ARD Family Resource Centre supports the wellbeing of families in Galway, with a particular emphasis on migrants. The Parents Wellbeing Support Group will build on the Begin Together funding received in 2020 and continue its weekly meetings. These meetings provide expert support in areas like managing anxiety, parenting skills, healthy relationships, and nutrition for 20 people. In addition, the 2021 activity will include a “Venture Out in Wilderness” project which will bring parents together for team building and peer support exercises. The project is also introducing counselling for four parents in particular need.
The AsIAm project supports autistic adults to gain the skills and knowledge needed to improve wellbeing and self-advocacy and build the capacity to support one another through a series of six part-session, group-based, wellbeing workshops. The programme is delivered by a qualified professional from within the autism community and coordinated by an adult support and wellbeing coordinator. It is delivered online in an interactive format, with content designed with the input of autistic adults, with a view to building the capacity of participants to become co-facilitators overtime. To be launched in Q4 2021, it will cover self-regulation, work-life balance, self-care, burnout recovery and harnessing strengths.
Autism Support Louth Meath runs a project called ‘Fitness Friends’ which enables participants with autism to take part in a variety of different activities, each week, with the main goals of building fitness as well as developing social skills and self-confidence. Fitness Friends has been a huge success so far with lots of participation and enjoyment from the children and teenagers with autism. Building on the success of the project in year 1, the Begin Together funding will allow the project to expand to include new modules and enable more children and teenagers to participate.
Back To Work Connect connects people, skills and job opportunities via a Skills 4 Success programme which includes a six week series called “Financial Planning – Foundation to your Future” developed to give participants the tools and knowledge to make independent decisions and improve their mental wellbeing. Expert speakers, downloadable tools, and supports, promote the importance and benefits of financial planning for financial wellbeing. The programme includes live group workshops on a range of topics as well as an individual one-on-one session with a financial planner to help address any individual concerns not covered in the open sessions.
Cara-Friend is working to support LGBTQI+ students to feel included and supported in school. Stress and anxiety amongst LGBTQI+ students can often be more pronounced. Through teacher training, inclusive workshops, afterschool activities, crisis management support and development of an inclusive school charter, Cara-Friend will support schools to foster an inclusive environment and encourage each student to truly be themselves.
Citywise Means Business seeks to empower people with the skills, competencies and information necessary to take control of their own financial wellbeing in a fun and engaging way. The programme provides a variety of age-appropriate supports to a cohort of over 120 people. Supports start from the age of 10, including interactive games based on personal finances, budgeting and the stock market. For older students, guest speakers and workshops provide information and instil the necessary skills to build the foundations for future financial wellbeing. This programme has developed over the last number of years and has the potential to grow, delivering a long-term, transformative impact.
Clonaslee Wheelchair Basketball helps people with physical disabilities to play wheelchair basketball, in the midlands area. The club trains weekly and competes nationally, in wintertime, as well as some more recreational activities in the summer. The Begin Together fund continues to support the purchase of specialist basketball wheelchairs, which will enable those without a specialist chair to participate in the sport. It is a challenging time for anyone following a life-altering accident. In addition to the obvious physical benefits, participation in the sport supports people’s social and mental wellbeing, as well as their participation in community life.
COPE plans to run a programme encouraging good bone health among older people to enable them to maintain their independence in their own communities for as long as possible. Begin Together funding will support COPE to run a series of group sessions for older people and will promote stronger bone health to reduce incidences of falls. A booklet and leaflet will be developed for older people including tips on diet, recipes, and ideas to maintain good mobility and will be delivered through sessions run by COPE and other community organisations.
The project will support older members of the centre as they look forward to everyday life after COVID. It will address the challenges faced by older people around connection and isolation by delivering a number of different initiatives. In-person and virtual workshops looking at issues around bereavement, as well as introducing services offered by other support groups will be offered to centre users and to its sister centre in Dublin. There will also be classes covering digital skills which will enable older people to connect with the world, and each other, virtually. The centre will also upgrade its garden space to ensure it is suitable for older people.
The Crosscare information and advocacy service is a social support agency, based in Dublin, providing a range of social care, community and youth work services.
With Begin Together funding, Crosscare will develop a volunteer interpreter programme and training for advocacy officers. This will enable them to deliver information & advocacy services to vulnerable migrants seeking to access social welfare and income supports; crisis intervention with statutory departments around homelessness; support on immigration status which will allow the right to work or be self-employed.
The Disability Federation of Ireland will deliver a community-based advocacy and wellbeing programme for people with disabilities and carers, in Cork. This programme will enhance the mental wellbeing of people with disabilities and their carers by developing skills around mental health, advocacy, self-determination, and self-confidence. The tailored content will be delivered across four separate workshops to both people with disabilities and carers. It will enable those who complete the course to maximise the opportunities on offer to them, including the positive developments as a result of recent government policy, and changes resulting from COVID.
Doras is an independent, non-profit organisation working to promote and protect human rights. They work in the areas of direct support, advocacy campaigns and integration planning. The group aims to enable ethnic minorities, migrants, and asylum-seekers to overcome barriers and the stigma around accessing mental health and wellbeing services. An advanced training plan for staff and a brochure for those accessing services will be developed. The Begin Together funding will also allow for an increase in capacity to provide emotional support through effective listening and engagement.
Dublin AIDS Alliance provides counselling service for people living with HIV. This project will be undertaken by the Community Support Team of HIV Ireland with the support of an independent counselling and psychotherapy practitioner and will provide training to volunteer counsellors and psychotherapists on working with people living with, or newly diagnosed with, HIV. The project will also provide supervised counselling to people who are experiencing psychological difficulties in their life because of the illness.
The Farm Accident Survivor project delivers practical, emotional and mental support for farm accident survivors and their families. Through facilitated monthly meetings, a Whatsapp group, and workshops, people discuss the challenges they face and share ideas on how to overcome them and live with their additional physical needs. Funding from Begin Together will help this group to expand the project, regionally, providing access to those in rural areas of the country, and to conduct research on the impact of these accidents on the survivors and their families from the time they occur through to later life.
Empowering the Adult is a year-long, personal, development programme for adults with physical disabilities run by Enable Ireland Kerry. The Begin Together funding will support the running of the program which focuses on building, resilience, improved confidence, and independent behaviours and beliefs. This programme aims to promote autonomy, health and wellness through personal expression, while building skills that support the participants’ personal choices and future plans.
Begin Together will fund activity to support the mental wellbeing of travellers, delivering a programme to prepare travellers who are working to access the “Diploma in Community Development in Practice, with a focus on Wellbeing” from NUIG. Candidates will be better prepared to access and complete the diploma, and, in turn, improve mental wellbeing for their wider community. Across 18 sessions, candidates will be introduced to the core course content, upgrade their digital skills, and improve their report writing and assignment capabilities. The programme will be offered to travellers throughout the midlands in H1 2022.
Family Carers Ireland is a national charity supporting the 500,000 people in Ireland who care for vulnerable family members or loved ones. Its National Counselling Service provides therapeutic support for carers who identify that they are struggling emotionally and ensures that family carers are supported to live well, within their caring role. This project will expand the counselling service, enabling referral of an additional 13 people for nine sessions of specialist counselling within a 12-month period.
Fermanagh Rural Community Initiative is an organisation that makes employment accessible to all through training and development. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the FCRI has noted the significant numbers who have been affected financially as a result of reduced wages or redundancies. The Begin Together funding will allow the FCRI to provide an introductory pathway to skills development, with a range of short courses available and a signposting service to more intensive training opportunities, aimed at ensuring that beneficiaries have a realistic chance of positive progression.
First Fortnight has delivered creative therapies and programmes of artistic events to those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, since 2012. The First Fortnight Centre for Creative Therapies has expanded this year with the addition of the Cactus child and adolescent, creative therapy service aimed at supporting those aged 3 to 18 living in shared or temporary accommodation. Funding will help provide access to iPads and technical supports which will allow more children to participate in online workshops. The creative support outreach packs also include basic musical instruments which will allow participation and practice outside the centre.
Connect and Grow is a project based in the GLAS community garden in Ballymun, which provides a gardening space and bi-weekly, organic, gardening sessions, through the growing season, in a supported inclusive environment. Begin Together will support the delivery of the Connect and Grow programme which engages with social and community groups near the garden. Participants can bring home their own share of the harvest as well as stories and smiles that blossomed throughout the session, benefitting their physical and mental wellbeing.
Involve Youth Project Meath operates a youth service in the towns of Navan and Trim to promote the participation of the traveller community in Irish society. The Project aims to break down the stigma and shame associated with mental health-related issues in the travelling community by talking about mental health. The Begin Together funding will support the development of eight young leaders who will work to expand their peer leadership programme across Co. Meath.
The Irish Refugee Council provides services and support for people seeking protection in Ireland while advocating for humane and dignified protection procedures and responses to people fleeing persecution. Begin Together will support ”Mind and Mend”, a programme of mental health supports for people in the International Protection Process. The programme will be delivered through group and individual sessions with a therapist or counsellor, staff training on mental health and managing suicidal conversations, the creation of a mental health guide detailing services and supports that exist for people in the protection process, and workshops. Where possible, the programme will support people to access medico-legal reports to support their application for international protection.
Irish Wheelchair Association Sport (IWA) works as a leading, national, governing body for sports for people with disabilities in Ireland to enable people with physical disabilities to participate in sport at all levels. Begin Together funding will help IWA Sport to develop a primary schools programme and resources, focused on increasing accessibility to sport for children with disabilities, promoting health and inclusivity. This programme will provide expert-led resources and practical training to teachers and special needs assistants. The programme will be delivered by people with disabilities and occupational experts and will facilitate play, physical education, and sport in schools.
The Willow and Woodland Crafts Wellbeing Project will support the mental wellbeing of L’Arche residents in Kilkenny by establishing a Willow Sculpture Project in the gardens attached to their residence. The introduction of willow craft to L’Arche communities will complement current activities and contribute to the overall mental wellbeing of L’Arche community members as well as wider communities. The project will provide training to community members (both staff and non-staff) to facilitate workshops in willow sculpture in the wider community, integrating members with intellectual disability into their local communities, whilst providing meaningful social roles as craftspeople and trainers.
Let’s Get Talking provides counselling and psychotherapy for people in four centres across the country, enabling access for everyone and removing any economic barrier. Its youth mental wellness programme will be delivered to young people through their school or youth groups. The tailored workshops will address a wide range of topics which can impact mental wellbeing among young people such as mental and emotional fitness, how to manage stress and anxiety, building resilience, physical health, and self-image, and managing relationships. The activity will be focused on Galway.
LGBT Ireland is a national support service for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families and friends. Begin Together funding will support LGBT Ireland’s research project, “Unveiling inequality experiences of LGBT+ Travellers & Roma”. The research aims to explore and make visible the experience of exclusion and marginalisation of these ethnic minorities due to a fear of, and experience of, racism within the mainstream Irish LGBT+ community and services. Research findings will be published in October 2022 and will be an input into future service development and advocacy plans.
Limerick Mental Health Association provides additional support to adults under the care of mental health services in Limerick city and county. Its group classes and activities offer its users a valuable and unique experience of warm, welcoming, and accessible support. The classes have a wide variety of activities with a core focus on creative expression. They link in with a wider support network encompassing women’s groups, men’s sheds, migrant groups, young shedders (youth group), art and music therapy, creative writing, walking, yoga, and mindfulness.
Operating from the new Liquid Therapy Surf Centre in Donegal, the team will expand their ‘Liquid Academy’ programme which provides opportunities for an individual to experience the ocean for the first time, whatever their additional needs. ‘Liquid on the Lake’, a new innovative programme, will launch in Coothill, Cavan and will facilitate wheelchair users aged 5 to 65 to experience the physical and therapeutic benefits of getting out onto the water with their families and friends. Designed to be much more than a splash and dash experience, these sessions are designed to build confidence and resilience through the introduction to a new environment, activity, and social dynamic.
Look Good Feel Better offers free hair and make-up workshops to women suffering with the appearance-related side-effects of cancer treatment. 20,000 women are diagnosed with cancer every year. Most of them go through cancer treatment which may impact their appearance, their mental health, and their self-esteem. The camaraderie and support given by participants to each other is as valuable as the skills learned in the workshops and they have been successfully adapted for delivery virtually, including distribution of a cosmetic kit. The project will build on the funding it received from Begin Together in 2020, delivering an additional six workshops to benefit 60 people.
Move4Parkinsons Foundation engages people with Parkinson’s disease running weekly choral, dance and exercise classes to relieve their symptoms, and bring them back into their communities, enabling a higher quality of life. The Begin Together funding will enable the Foundation to run an activity programme for members. The enhanced project will improve participants’ physical and mental wellbeing, reduce social isolation, and transform what it means to live with Parkinson’s.
Nasc Gateway Project works to dismantle the barriers faced by migrant and refugee women in accessing education and employment, and to foster and create community integration. Through the Gateway Project, a self-directed wellbeing programme will be delivered, including development of a peer support group to create a safe place for the women to share their experiences, issues, and struggles. Tapping into the talents of this culturally-diverse group a series of classes called ‘Creative Connections’ will be run to foster and harness creativity, to offer peer-led skill-sharing and learning opportunities, and to create wellness and healing through artistic expression.
The National Lesbian and Gay Federation campaigns for the equal rights of, and to combat discrimination against, LGBT people in Ireland and internationally. With Begin together funding, the Federation will launch a new project called “What it’s like to be…”, a multimedia series which creates visibility and provides a platform for the voices of minorities and the underrepresented within the LGBTQ+ community. The series will highlight important conversations that need to happen, both within the LGBTQ+ community and within society through a series of six videos and six podcasts, each focussing on a separate issue of importance.
New Horizon provides social supports to asylum seekers and refugees living at the Accommodation Centre in Athlone, Co. Westmeath and supports their integration into Irish society. The ‘Teen Adventures’ project aims to support 30 teenagers and their families living in Direct Provision in Athlone to enjoy outdoor activities in the summer at Birr Outdoor Education and Training Centre. Here, the teenagers and their families will participate in outdoor adventure activities such as kayaking, climbing, archery and surfing. The days away from their accommodation centre will bring much needed release and enjoyment for both the teenagers and their families.
Outcomers Drogheda is an independent, support organisation providing a confidential drop-in space, information, integration and advocacy for LGBTQ+ adults in the Drogheda area. The Begin Together funding will support the organisation to host an immersive one-day wellness event which will build on the success of the series of bi-monthly Information evenings run through 2020. The event will inform and empower attendees to understand their own mental health needs and give practical tips on how to bolster participants’ resilience and sense of empowerment.
Purple House provides cancer support in a community setting, via its drop-in centre including psychological and practical help to those who had, or have, cancer and their families and friends. The project will provide weekly groups with a qualified counsellor and therapist to support the emotional and mental wellbeing of families of those who have received a cancer diagnosis. This will help provide the skills and coping strategies to manage the difficult period through and beyond a cancer diagnosis, and to facilitate an improved quality of life.
The “Accountable to You” project aims to support older people, who may be vulnerable, to manage their finances with confidence. The core objective of this project is to ensure that they are aware that it is their right to manage their own finances and to spend their own money as they choose. The project will also specifically provide advocacy services to support older people who may be vulnerable to financial abuse. It will include the production of a suite of accessible and practical information and resources, quarterly webinars on financial wellbeing, and a strong campaign to drive awareness of the challenges that older people can face.
ShoutOut is a registered charity committed to improving life for LGBTQ+ people. Begin Together will support it development of a publication as a resource for LGBTQ+ people where LGBTQ+ people discuss their personal journeys with mental health and resilience. In addition, a web portal will feature art, essays, and poetry from young LGBTQ+ people sharing their experiences. The aim of this project is to act as a resource to help reduce the sense of isolation and improve mental wellbeing in this community.
SOSAD works to raise awareness and help prevent suicide in Ireland providing services through six offices based in Cavan, Louth, Meath, and Monaghan, and through their helpline. This funding will allow the group to expand the existing online crisis messaging service to provide support for non-English speakers including Latvian, Lithuanian, Russian and Polish people. This will include mental health supports like counselling and psychotherapy in the client’s native language where necessary.
Special Olympics Ireland supports the global vision to create a world where people with intellectual disabilities have the same opportunities and access to health care as people without intellectual disabilities. The Health Promotion Programme will deliver 19 workshops to athletes covering off healthy diet, exercise, hygiene, and reducing risky behaviours. In addition, Healthy Athletes is a free, health-screening programme supporting healthy habits and awareness of overall health and encourages participation in community initiatives like park runs and similar events.
Sporting Pride’s vision is to make Irish sport the most inclusive in the world for members of the LGBTQ+ community. We want to help sporting organisations develop inclusive programmes that will continue breaking down barriers, increase participation rates and make sport a safe and welcoming place for the LGBTQ+ community at all levels. We want to expand online and in-person workshops to both new and established sports clubs. Sporting Pride aims to make sport in Ireland more inclusive to members of the LGBTQ+ community by increasing understanding.
St. Paul’s Amateur Boxing Club (ABC) in Belfast is a vital sporting resource for vulnerable young people in a community where anti-social behaviour, addiction and mental health are all real challenges. Taking up boxing will offer young people the opportunity to develop life skills, while supporting their physical fitness and mental wellbeing, proactive inclusion, and ensuring pride-based events become part of how all clubs operate in the future.
St. Gabriel’s School & Centre is a 50-year-old organisation dedicated to the care and education of children with multiple physical disabilities in the mid-west region. St. Gabriel’s Post Diagnosis training support aims to help parents of recently diagnosed children to access practical emotional and mental health supports and practices at a time of great distress. The key activities support parents in identifying and managing their own feelings, talking to family and friends about the diagnosis of a disability through support group activities, and family-based interventions.
The Aughamore Day Care Centre provides day care services to the people living with dementia in the north-west, which in turn enables respite for their carers. The Centre offers a wide variety of activities including reminiscence therapy, music sessions, gentle exercises, arts and crafts, and personal care services. Funding from Begin Together will help the centre to develop a sensory garden in the grounds to further enhance wellbeing and allow for freedom of movement and decision making in a safe physical environment.
The Down Syndrome Centre Cork provides support for people in the county with Down Syndrome. The centre plans to refurbish its outdoor play area which is an invaluable tool for learning and development as well as supporting physical wellbeing. For this vulnerable group, having an outdoor space is more important than ever as it reduces the risk of COVID transmission. The new space will be used for free play and as part of structured therapies and will include planted beds, storage and shelter, as well as the relevant equipment.
MS Ireland delivers online, physiotherapy programmes, tailored to ability and stage of MS, which lead to reductions in symptom severity, improvements in walking, and balance ability and, most importantly, improves quality of life. As grantees of the 2020 Begin Together fund, the Longford branch of MS physiotherapy and reflexology provided physio support online to members. This year, the group aim to expand the series of online, physio classes and to reintroduce one-to-one sessions.
The National Traveller Mental Health Network is a collective of travellers and traveller organisations, across Ireland, whose goal is to develop a collective space where traveller mental health issues are highlighted, and solutions are explored, discussed, and addressed. The funding provided by Begin Together will allow the Network to launch a nationwide campaign to build awareness within the traveller community about mental health issues and the risks of suicide.
The Open Doors Initiative provides opportunities to the marginalised members of our society by creating pathways to work through training, education and employment. With the Begin Together funding, the Open Doors Initiative will be able to roll out a new migrant hub -Pathways to Progress- aimed at assisting both employers and potential employees to gain employment, further their education and their financial wellbeing through digital activation.
Sanctuary Runners is a national organisation which aims to provide an opportunity for those residing in Direct Provision Centres to integrate with the local community through a running club. Each run is followed by a coffee meetup where relationships are built. These relationships help to improve the understanding between protected applicants and the local community. Through the development of a social media presence, local advertising and word of mouth, The Donegal Sanctuary Runners aim to encourage a wide range of participants to join their club.
The Shona Project aims to educate, empower, and inspire today’s Irish girls to become tomorrow’s resilient, capable, and confident young women. The Shona Project will support girls aged 12-16 through a week of immersive workshops during the summer months to build confidence in young women. Topics covered range from self-worth, making a difference, personal values, and critical evaluation of what they see and hear online and in real life. The project was oversubscribed in 2020 and 2021 and Begin Together funding will allow further extension of the project.
The Together Razem non-profit organisation provides support through social and legal advice, mental health and education to Eastern Europeans all aimed at helping them integrate into Irish culture and society. The Begin Together funding will allow Together Razem to stand up a new ‘Well-Informed Migrant’ project aimed at providing Polish and East European migrants with educational resources to assist in improving their financial wellbeing.
Twilight Community Group helps senior members of society understand finance through a programme called PASS (Protecting Advancing Senior Services). The programme delivered at monthly, socially inclusive, and informative community gatherings, -including coffee mornings, bingo and other fun activities – enables the senior population of Kilkenny to meet, chat and be informed. Facilitators, counsellors, and financial advisers chat communally and individually with participants in a relaxed environment. The digital element of the programme helps seniors improve their knowledge and access to online financial services, and ensure they are comfortable when shopping or banking online.
Walkinstown Greenhills Resource Centre works with the community to tackle the causes and symptoms of substance misuse and mental health difficulties and to develop appropriate responses. ‘The Building Resilience Project’ provides a low-cost, comprehensive, community-based, one-to-one support service to children and adolescents. With active family participation, the project provides therapeutic play support to children aged 8 to 12 years and adolescent support initiatives to those from 12 up to 18 years of age. The project aims to empower the young person to cope with problems in their lives, to increase their self-esteem and to make lasting differences to psychological resilience psychological wellbeing.
The Women’s Centre, Derry, provides educational and other development opportunities for women, and provides onsite childcare so they can gain qualifications and skills to help them enter employment and supports for their daily lives. The centre has identified three groups struggling with isolation, caring responsibilities, anxiety and challenging situations at home. With this funding, they plan to run a six-week programme for women to come together, share their experiences, learn from each other, and get tips on self-care. This diverse programme, with built-in peer support, will make a real difference to their lives.
Yarn Social Day Club runs a senior social club primarily for people living with dementia. The club provides a safe, supportive, environment for members to actively participate in everyday activities, to the best of their cognitive and physical abilities. Research shows that dance therapy improves cognitive function and social interaction for people living with dementia. This funding will allow the club to run 30, hour-long, dance therapy workshops in a fun and relaxed environment supporting members’ physical and mental wellbeing.