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Mid Ulster counselling charity receives coronavirus support

Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland funding will buy laptops, headsets and telephone equipment for video conferencing to help the needy.

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Brenda McMullan of the Halifax Foundation (Halifax Foundation/PA)

Brenda McMullan of the Halifax Foundation (Halifax Foundation/PA)

Brenda McMullan of the Halifax Foundation (Halifax Foundation/PA)

A mental health charity in part of Northern Ireland facing the worst economic effects of coronavirus and a rising death toll has received a £10,000 grant.

The Mid-Ulster Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (MACP) halted face-to-face counselling to limit the spread of infection but has seen an influx of new clients worried about catching the virus.

Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland funding will buy laptops, headsets and telephone equipment for video conferencing to help those needing online support.

People are anticipating the worstJoe Coney, MACP

MACP chairman Joe Coney said the organisation had been inundated by new clients young and old who are extremely anxious due to the virus.

He added: “People are anticipating the worst.”

The charity service is helping clients look at ways to keep safe and lower anxiety levels.

It has bought new laptops, phones and other equipment to enable online counselling.

Mr Coney said: “Without that money, there is no way we could have operated.

“We are taking new referrals daily, males and females and young people.”

He said there had been a number of people diagnosed with coronavirus in the area, including his own town of Coalisland in Co Tyrone.

Mr Coney added: “For three or four people to have died with Covid around this area would be quite a high number but we are getting calls from all over Mid Ulster.”

Mid Ulster may endure the worst short-term virus-related economic shock of any Northern Ireland region, research has suggested.

The Centre for Progressive Policy (CPP) applied an Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) scenario and said economic output could fall in Mid Ulster by 45%.

The Halifax Foundation has awarded £387,854 to 66 charities in Northern Ireland to help their response to Covid-19.

On the day lockdown was announced, March 23, the foundation moved immediately to provide emergency grants to support charities helping those most at risk.

They included those running food banks and delivering food parcels to those in need, domestic abuse support and online employability support for those who have lost their jobs.

The foundation is working hard to award additional funding to those that need it most, and we are aware that time is of the essenceBrenda McMullan

Executive director Brenda McMullan said: “We are truly humbled by the amazing efforts of our charity and community sectors during these very uncertain and unprecedented times.

“The foundation is working hard to award additional funding to those that need it most, and we are aware that time is of the essence.

“We will also help charities post-Covid to rebuild and re-establish their services at a time when they will be needed to help rebuild society.”

Another of the first recipients was Co Antrim-based charity A Safe Space to Be Me.

It received £9,625 to help people in rural areas to access their local food bank, obtain sanitation products, and support those who were self-isolating, particularly the elderly and vulnerable members of their community.

In another case, the Halifax Foundation’s £10,000 grant leveraged a further £40,000 from other sources.

That enabled the purchase of 225 laptops and a series of educational resources for five secondary schools with the highest number of children in need.

Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland’s income is derived from Lloyds Banking Group.

PA