Six community projects across North West Northern Ireland have been awarded £388,000 in grants from The Ideas Fund to work with researchers to develop and try out ideas that address problems related to mental wellbeing in their communities.

Developing Healthy Communities and the North West Community Network act as local coordinators for the grants scheme, which is run by the British Science Association and funded by Wellcome.

The grants bring together people who have an idea about how to improve the mental wellbeing of their local community with researchers who can help turn their idea into a reality. Since its launch in 2021, The Ideas Fund has awarded £3.28 million in grants to over 70 community projects across four geographical areas of the UK: North West Northern Ireland, the Scottish Highlands and Islands, Oldham and Hull.

The first round of funding in July 2021 saw eight projects in North West Northern Ireland receive £343,000 in grants. In the second round of funding announced, a further six projects in the region have received funding totaling £388,000 to develop and deliver projects that address local mental wellbeing concerns:

  • In Your Space Circus: will run a programme of circus workshops for older people in Derry (see case study below).
  • Menopause Project: Informing Choices NI based in Derry & Strabane, will co-design an educational programme that informs and supports women with learning disabilities through the menopause on issues ranging from depression to hair loss.
  • Pink Ladies Cancer Support Group: will work with researchers to interview cancer survivors about their experiences of cancer surgery, focusing on themes from body image to mental health, an artist will then be commissioned to transform these themes identified into a mural in Derry City Centre.
  • ARC Fitness Addiction Recovery Coaching: will create gender-specific addiction recovery groups to better understand the potential wellbeing benefits and outcomes of participation in a gender-specific versus a mixed-gender group.
  • Londonderry YMCA: will run a mentoring project for 15 girls aged 11 – 14 years old who access YMCA services, ranging from drug counselling to housing advice, by pairing them with student mentors from Ulster University’s Social Work and Community Art Department.
  • Derg Valley Care: will bring together a “Grow Your Own” initiative in rural Castlederg with social prescribing in Strabane town to see if an intervention like this could alleviate both poor wellbeing and food poverty at the same time