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Connections and Support

There is a wealth of knowledge, expertise and support in local communites and it is well worth connecting with and becoming part of - being able to draw on and contribute to the strengths of a community network is reassuring and empowering.


The term 'community and voluntary sector' (also known as the 3rd sector) is used to describe the non-profit organisations that provide support and services. Many of these partner with or are funded by statutory services so that as much help and information as possible is available to those that need it. In the Southern Health & Social Care Trust and other regions of Northern Ireland the Public Health Authority supplies a directory of Community support provision in many areas related to mental health and wellbeing - These are FREE.

You can access this credit card sized directory via our 'Support & Helplines' page 


Advice and information on a wide range of topics and activities is available from places like:

  • Neighours, Friends and Family
  • Local councils
  • Sports clubs
  • Local charities
  • Drop-in centres and food banks
  • Community partnerships
  • Residents's associations
  • Church and social groups
  • Support groups
  • The Citizen's Advice Bureau
  • Political constituency offices
  • Libraries
  • Schools and colleges
  • Clubs and Youth organisaitons
  • Some workplaces and professional offices
  • Community notice boards and social media


These and other groups understand the importance of working together and cultivate strong links so that they can each sign-post to a range of other supports as necessary. This means you are never far away from the information or support you need - in strong commjnites there is rarely a 'wrong door' - don't be afraid to make an approach if you need assistance. If that organisation is unable to help they will most likely be able to help you connect with someone who can.


Many supports and services are independantly available in the community but information is also available about how to connect with or have a better expereince with statutory services. Linking with your local commubnity and keeping yourself informed will bring you personal benefit and you will have opportunities to directly involve yourself in that community helping others if you choose to do so.


Living with a mental illness can sometimes create isoloation, frustration and fear but your local community can help you with your challenges as well as deveolping your confidence and resilience. Community connections and support are not always immediately obvious when unwell so keyworkers, GPs and other Professionals are trained to assist you in accessing appropriate services.


The Southern Trust Recovery College and other organisations run FREE education courses in the community and volunteering is also a great way to build skills and meet people. Community support groups exitst for a wide range of conditions and social issues and provide opportunity to connect with others you can identify with.


The Mental Health Forum is based in Ballybot House in Newry, which is the base for the Confederation of Community Groups and a hub for many community support activities and crucial information sharing. Leaflets and poster are available at reception here as well as in the offices of most places listed above. 



Volunteering is good for your mental health

**Scroll down for Volunteer opportunities**

Whether it's applying your skills and time to help a friend with something, supporting an organisation or place of worship, or signing up for a more formal programme - volunteering helps you while you help others.


Volunteering helps individuals build social and communication skills strengthen confidence, and brings communities together to improve the qulaity of life for everyone. Opportunities for skills development  and personal learning alone make it a great way to spend a few hours free time on a regular basis but the mental and physical benefits are easily recognisible. 


Volunteering is something open to people of all ages and your local community will have many areas in which you can contrbute.


Below you will find a few links to help  you start your search for the perfect volunteering opportunity. 


   Some starting points for your volunteer opportunity search

This is not a definitive list nor is it intended to offer endorsement. Many other local and regional opportunites exist - too many to list here. Research online, Ask friends and family, Check out local community boards and enquire with local charities.

CLICK HERE to explore local volunteering opportunities - Just enter your postcode

CLICK HERE to explore volunteering opportunities within The Southern Trust

The Mental Health Forum website is maintained by a small team of volunteers.

If you have IT skills and would like to work with us doing regular site updates

and maintenance, then get in touch to register interest. 


Induction, full training, and support are provided from our office in Newry.

We will contact you by return, give you more information, and advise you what opportunities are available right now.


Volunteers must be over 16, have an interest in mental health issues, be able to work from home with daily access to a compatible personal computer, and be able to provide references. 

Average time commitment is 2-4 hours per week

Contact Elaine:  02830 252423   or  Click here to email



This site cannot present a full list of Information, Services and Groups active within the entire Southern Health and Social Care Trust; those listed via links above are only examples of what may be available in your local area. Your keyworker, support worker, friends and peers may be able to help you find something that meets your support needs and promotes wellbeing and recovery.

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