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Belfast Healthy Cities

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Healthy Cities 21st Century

Balloons of HOPE and CARE campaign launched by CareZone

15th May 2020

Messages for CARE and HOPE have been displayed in north Belfast as part of a new community initiative to lift community spirits during the ongoing pandemic. 150 balloons with the CARE and HOPE messages were displayed last night (Thursday 14th May) on  Oldpark Avenue, along with 150 wellbeing bags, which were delivered to families and vulnerable people living in the area. Two special presentations were made to the oldest and youngest residents of Oldpark Avenue - 99 year old Mrs Rafferty and 7 week old Indie Toal, who received special gifts from Blooms of Belfast.

The project has been launched by CareZone, and aims to help provide support to people and raise community spirits during the COVID-19 crisis. The CareZone project was established as a community development pilot to tackle poor mental health and reduce suicide in the Sacred Heart Parish area in north Belfast. The project is led by the Lighthouse Charity and brings together a number of key stakeholders that operate in the area, including statutory, voluntary and community organisations and local residents.

The display of the CARE and HOPE balloons will help spread these important messages across the area, while the wellbeing packs, which volunteers delivered after the balloons were displayed, contain practical items that will help with mindfulness, such as games, colouring items, playing cards and stress balls. The packs also contain information on where people can  seek help, and a call for anyone who can help local people to come forward.

Speaking at the event, Jo Murphy from Lighthouse, who leads the CareZone project, said “This is a unique and difficult time for everyone. Across the CareZone and the wider North Belfast area, we know the challenges faced on a daily basis as a result of poor mental health in normal times, and it is even more important during the ongoing pandemic that we show the local people that there is HOPE and CARE in the local community.

“Tonight, along with displaying the balloons as messages to everyone living here, we have started to deliver wellbeing packages, which we hope will play a part in lifting spirits and bringing the community closer together. So far, the community has played their part by following the rules on staying at home, but that will become more difficult for many, and those who live alone in particular may be struggling. This is a community effort, and the CareZone will continue to work to support people and ensure that the community can work together to get through this difficult time.”

This project has been organised by the CareZone, with the support of Lighthouse, YEHA (Youth Education Health Advice), Belfast Healthy Cities, Belfast City Council (Health Development Unit) Sacred Heart Primary School, Urban Villages and most importantly local residents and volunteers.