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£2million National Lottery boost to community groups in Northern Ireland

The National Lottery Community Fund has today announced a roll-out of more than £2million across Northern Ireland, with 46 grants ranging from £500 to £500,000 going to local projects.

These include supporting children with cancer, helping people with disabilities become more independent and bringing people together through events like a community cinema or a ploughing match.

One of these projects is Leafair Community Association based in Derry/Londonderry, that empowers people of all ages to lead fuller, healthier lives and has been a “lifeline” over the last 25 years. They are using a £361,900 grant to develop a ‘MALE: Men, Active, Learning and Engaging in the Community’ programme to introduce isolated and disengaged men in a wide range of social, learning, economic and cultural activities. The money is being used to set up a Volunteer Shed as well as hosting employability training and taster sessions to increase skills and address confidence, loneliness and well-being issues.

Peter McDonald, Manager of Leafair Community Association said: 

“We often find that men retreat to their homes and don’t want to admit they are suffering, thinking it’s better to just keep everything to themselves but this can have really bad repercussions.

“At Leafair health and well-being are our priority and this National Lottery funding will make a huge difference. The MALE project will get local men engaged in activities, whether its sporting, woodwork or volunteering within the community, to prove that there is more to life than staring out your window.

“Leafair offers these men the support they need to live fuller, happier lives. We have men coming from all backgrounds whether it’s depression, mental health, addiction issues or marriage breakdowns. This group gives them a sense of belonging, a safe place where they can engage with other men who are going through similar situations, and a chance to open up and talk.”

For two local men the services offered by the group have been life-saving.

It was through a health check MOT which are offered twice a year at Leafair, that Gerry McLaughlin discovered he had early stage prostate cancer. A devastating blow to the 65-year-old.

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