Belfast Telegraph

Project will be Getting The Break

A project improving the health and training opportunities of people with Spina Bifida and Hydrochephalus in north Belfast has been awarded a major grant from the Big Lottery Fund.

The Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrochephalus has been awarded a grant of £493,617 to run the Getting The Break project to improve the training, information and support it offers to people living with the debilitating conditions in north Belfast and across Northern Ireland.

The project will run a range of programmes to improve the skills and confidence of people with Spina Bifida, a condition that creates a lesion on their spine that can lead to learning difficulties and paralysis, and Hydrochephalus, a build up of fluid on the brain that can lead to brain damage and physical disabilities.

Advice clinics will also be set up one day a week in rural community venues across Northern Ireland so that people with the conditions can get support in comfortable, easy to reach locations covering issues such as benefits advice, job opportunities, and counselling.

Alison Crawford, 28, from the Antrim Road, was born with Spina Bifida. She had an operation on her spine as a child and uses a wheelchair to get around.

“I went to a mainstream school and although I had friends I always felt like a bit of an outsider,” she said.

“I couldn’t do the things everyone else did like sports and I was always treated differently.

“I often felt lonely and isolated growing up and I was aware that I was different.

“Being involved with the association has given me the chance to share my problems with other people in similar situations.

“I’ve realised I’m not alone and I’m looking forward to getting involved in programmes that will help me take control of my life and make my own decisions,” she added.

Director Cathy McKillop explained that the skills training the project runs will include daily living skills, confidence building, and speaking in public.

“By offering the training we are giving people with the conditions, their families and carers, the chance to mix together and share their experiences with people who are going through similar situations,” she said.

“We want to give people the chance to be as independent as possible. They will have access to equipment, support groups and advice that will help them lead healthier, more fulfilled lives.”

Grants totalling over £5 million have been awarded to 14 projects under the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities Northern Ireland programme.

The £18 million programme has supported a wide range of projects that have improved people’s lives, created stronger communities and improved local environments.

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