Co Down Rural Community opens new hub in Newcastle

Co Down Rural Community opens new hub in Newcastle

13 October 2021

THE Co Down Rural Community Network has opened a new wellbeing hub in Newcastle.

The new facility is intended to be a central point in the resort to make it easier for people to access information, advice and support and participate in activities to improve their mental and physical health and wellbeing. 

It will work with individuals, community members, local groups, and multi-disciplinary teams (MDTs) to identify community needs and facilitate better access to mental health and wellbeing training and resources.

The opening of the new hub is the culmination of the Community Network working with local GPs and primary care teams and the wider community for over 20 years. 

Over the past three years, the network has linked up with the MDTs in the local primary care practices. 

The network has a team of social prescribers and an MDT coordinator who take referrals from GP practices, pharmacists and from other sources and find solutions for people who may be affected by physical limitations or mental health issues or who simply feel isolated in their own homes. 

This work has intensified during the Covid pandemic, making the opening of the hub even more timely.

A total of 233 people have been referred by the local GPs and their teams to the Community Network since January this year in addition to the 377 clients that the Social Prescribing team have been working with since 2018. 

Newry, Mourne and Down Council chairwoman Cathy Mason, who officially opened the news hub on Monday, has described it as a “great asset” for the Community Network team and those who formerly operated a connect and chat service.

“Groups of all sorts now have a base to operate from in a beautiful and peaceful location. This will be an asset to the wider community in Newcastle as a place to meet up with friends or start a walk on the promenade and call back for a cuppa,” she added.

Network manager, Nicholas McCrickard, said he was delighted with the opening of the new hub.

 “The weather was kind to us and this hub is now well positioned to welcome local people who are recovering from the pandemic and just want to get out and about again,” he added.

Dr Lloyd Gilpin from the Causeway Practice said the hub is designed to be a welcoming place where someone concerned about their wellbeing can come along, “unpick their needs and be supported to get to the right services quickly through the social prescribing model”.

He added: “We hope it will match the huge unmet need in the community with local community based solutions.”

The Community Network will also deliver new services funded by the Mental Health Fund, which has just recently secured from the Department of Health and the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland.