People in recovery from addiction in Ballymena and people with learning disabilities are receiving more support thanks to National Lottery funding.
Ballymena Family & Addicts Support Group received a £495,517 grant for their Building a Recovery Community project.
Over four years they are working with Preventing Addiction Larne, Cornerstone in Carrickfergus and Action for Community Transformation Initiative in Belfast to create a network of community organisations to offer flexible, timely and accessible support to people with addiction and mental ill-health, including their families and carers.
They are providing counselling, mental health first aid, befriending, complementary therapies, sport, arts and crafts, training, and awareness raising projects.
May Anderson, Chairperson of Ballymena Family & Addicts Support Group, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this grant from The National Lottery Community Fund which will make a major contribution to our work.
“The project allows us to begin an exciting new partnership with a number of organisations across Mid and East Antrim and Greater Shankill who also provide support to people with addictions.
“Together we will work together to provide direct services to those most in need and at risk as well as to raise awareness and challenge stigma and discrimination.”
Meanwhile, CAN, which has bases in Ballymena, Coleraine and Ballymoney, has been awarded a £361,297 grant from The National Lottery Community Fund for their five-year Community LINX Project.
They are supporting people with learning disabilities and autism aged over 18 in the Causeway Coast and Glens and Mid and East Antrim Council areas.
The project is helping them to take part in social and leisure activities, develop friendships and reduce loneliness and isolation.
Some people will be paired with non-disabled buddies and they will support each other to take part in activities and connect to their community.
The programme includes a social club, peer support, mentoring, training on communication skills, guidance on maintaining healthy friendships, and volunteer training.
Linda McKendry, director of services for CAN, said: “This is an amazing opportunity for our guys to come together with people in their own communities for social and leisure opportunities and expand their networks.
“The friendship is two-way and as one of our young Peer Buddies said, ‘I never had a friend until I had a buddy’. We look forward to inviting lots of new people to get involved in our CAN Family by getting involved with this fantastic project.”
Include Youth and Social Farms & Gardens which are working in Ballymena also received funding.
Kate Beggs, The National Lottery Community Fund Northern Ireland Director, said: “I am delighted to announce these grants today. It’s great to see National Lottery money being used by people who are taking the lead in developing great ideas to help their communities thrive. I want to say thanks to all the National Lottery players who have helped make this possible.”