Focus on getting back on track

Posted on: 10th September, 2015

Category: Health & Lifestyle

Contributor: West Cork People

Someday I will be free by Michelle McDermott I don’t know why this has happened me and I don’t expect you to understand Life doesn’t always go accordingly or how you’ve always planned. Everybody has a dream which they would like to fulfil Mine is to work with my mind as a team to find myself I know in time I will. I long for the day to wake up and feel totally complete For the day will come where I’ll win my cup and stand on my own two feet.

Initiating its sixth year in Clonakilty this September, Focus is a little known but highly successful course that helps people get their lives back on track after a mental health setback.

Interviews for the 12-month no-fee programme, run by National Learning Network and funded by the HSE, start in August and September 2015. Programme participants receive a training allowance of €31.80 per week to offset any course-related expenses like attending leisure or cultural events; and importantly, social welfare payments are not impacted.

A non-therapeutic training programme, Focus facilitates people to develop confidence, knowledge and skills to gain more control over their future. The course is deliverd by a team of three instructors and covers a wide range of activities including art, fitness, healthy lifestyles, cookery, relaxation techniques, computers, and health and safety. There is also support from Manager Patrick Murphy, a Rehabilitation Psychologist and an Outreach Support Worker.

“The Focus group helped me realise I am not alone. The support from the group has earned me new friends. It’s a nice feeling to walk down the street and have someone say hello,” said one participant.

Another participant commented, “I found there was a great support network and understanding from the tutors. Being in a routine settled me and allowed me to look forward to the day. It has been a great year and I will miss it really, but its onwards and upwards now, as I have found myself work again and this wouldn’t have become a reality without this course. I would highly recommend this course to everybody as I firmly believe it brought out the best in me.”

Participants have the option of completing FETAC/QQI level 3 certification. The core course elements include personal development focusing on confidence building and communication skills; community integration focusing on learning what supports are available in your area and how to access and utilise them; physical and mental wellbeing; improving your mental health self-management skills, completing a WRAP course and stress management; and vocational exploration focusing on improving your employment related skills and work placement.

Focus works with people to identify their strengths and build their skills to help people move towards a positive change in life. By working within local communities, with local employers and community groups, the Focus course assists people who feel isolated due to their mental health issue to find the confidence to take the next step to education or employment and to take part in community again.

Previous course participants have advocated through The West Cork Mental Health Consumer Panel and a group of former trainees helped to establish Clonakilty Rainbow Group (peer support group for people who have or are suffering mental distress). This year’s Focus course has been no different with active community involvement in West Cork Wellness week and drumming sessions with Kevin Shannahan. An emphasis this year has been on developing communication skills and writer Ronnie McGinn has delivered writing workshops to the participants with many people experiencing the success of publication in The Examiner and The Echo. The group also run an allotment in the Clonakilty Allotment.

Is the programme for you? These questions might help. Do you feel isolated?; Have you, or did you in the past have a mental health difficulty?; Do you think you would benefit from building a routine and structure into your day?; Are you at a loss, want to get back on track, and don’t know where to start?; Are you ready for a change?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions then contact Elva, Lee or Mairin at the Focus Programme, Clonakilty on 087 231 6919.

National Learning Network, in partnership with Cork Education and training Board (CETB) and the Health Service Executive (HSE), provides full-time rehabilitative and employment training courses for persons with additional support needs due to injury, illness or disability to over 300 people at its centres in Clonakilty, Bantry in West Cork and Mallow, Hollyhill, Model Farm Road and Penrose Wharf in Cork city, Bantry.

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Wave to Mary! 65-year-old Mary Nolan Hickey is running around the entire coast of the Island of Ireland to raise funds & awareness for the RNLI and is currently running the roads of West Cork.

Mary is the only woman to have completed every single Dublin Marathon (all 38 of them). She’s also completed the grueling Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert, known as the ‘toughest foot race on earth’.

To mark her 50th year involved in Athletics Mary is taking on her biggest challenge yet (even though she thought she’d already done that when completing the Dublin Marathon when she was over six months pregnant!) She wants to raise as much money as possible for the RNLI.

Mary started her epic journey in Arklow, Co. Wicklow, on New Year’s Day. She aims to cover up to 5000 kilometers, using coastal routes, over the next five months. She hopes to get back in time to get her first pension payment in June when she turns 66.

Mary will stop off at as many RNLI stations as possible, on her once in a lifetime adventure. As far as she knows no other woman has ever taken on this challenge.

Speaking about her journey Mary said:

“I wanted to prove that age not a barrier. Coming from a coastal town I have a deep affinity with our local RNLI station & volunteers and have huge admiration for the brave men and women who risk their lives to save lives at sea”.

Mary, who’s depending on the goodwill of communities along her route for accommodation, has been astounded by the response so far. “The support has been overwhelming,” she said. “I have met the most amazing and encouraging people along the way”.

To see more about Mary’s adventures, and to pinpoint her location today, check out her Facebook page - rnlilapofthemap2018.
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20th March, 2018  ·  


This Saturday the 10th March, will see some magically curious activity as local Bandon national schools compete in a Wizarding Harry Potter Quiz. The prize will be the beautiful Bandon Banshee Perpetual Cup.

As any Harry Potter enthusiast knows, Bandon has the unique honour of having a character named after the town. The Bandon Banshee, was referred to as the nemesis of Gilderoy Lockhart in the Chamber of Secrets. The book grossed €60 million in sales and was the 7th highest earning film of all time.

Locals, looking to enhance the town for young people, saw the quiz as an ideal way promote the connection. The universally absorbing book series brings young readers on a huge adventure of magic, adversity and triumph. It is also an exploration of loyalty and friendship, good and evil – so it is not only popular way to engage young people, it is a hugely positive connection.

Zoe Tennyson, one of the organisers said they were delighted with the response from schools who ran a qualifying quiz as part of World Book Day. On Saturday Bandon Town Hall will be transformed into Hogwarts Great Hall, with proceeds going Bandon Playground Group, and to cover costs of the event.

Bandon Books will be rewarding the winning team with vouchers to each of the five members. The Bandon Banshee, or Bean-sidhe na Bandaan Perpetual Cup will be hotly contested – but which school will the Banshee go to??

If you have any questions please call Marguerite McQuaid on 087 900 9494
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8th March, 2018  ·  

Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition 23 February 2018

The inaugural Ballineen Foróige Young Engineers Exhibition will take place in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen this Friday 23rd February. As part of Engineers Week 2018, leaders and members of Ballineen Foróige Club have organised an exhibition which will showcase a diverse and exciting range of engineering projects that have been undertaken by members of the club over the last few weeks, with the aid of leaders and a number of local engineers.

With the aid of local pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, along with the support of STEAM Education, a UCC based company focused on promoting science, technology, engineering, arts, and maths subjects in primary schools, Ballineen Foróige has been engaging members and leaders in all things engineering over the last six weeks. From researching, designing, and prototyping a project based on local problems, to participating in various workshops on coding and careers in engineering, Ballineen Foróige have been extremely busy in preparation for the exhibition this coming Friday night.

On the night itself, Michael Loftus, Head of Engineering at CIT, Fintan Goold, Manager at Eli Lilly and All-Ireland Cork winning Footballer, along with Geraldine Coughlan of GCA Architects & Designers, a local business, will act as judges on the night, evaluating the different engineering projects and offering some advice to the members of the club. Also in attendance will be the CEO of Foróige Seán Campbell, along with a number of local councillors, TD’s and Senators.

Leading the team of Ballineen Foróige leaders organising the event, is Rebecca Dwyer, a bioprocess engineer at Eli Lilly. Rebecca recently became a leader in the club and says that Ballineen Foróige Young Engineer Exhibition 2018 “promises to be a fun, challenging and rewarding experience for all involved and we look forward to welcoming parents, relatives, friends and members of the public to the exhibition and film screening on the evening of Friday 23rd February.” Overall, there are twelve projects entered in the exhibition. One project, led by Cian Kennefick and Charlie Nolan, members of the starting out club, examines the possibility of installing speed ramps on the road near local primary school. Fourteen-year-old Charlie says he got involved in the project as it was something to do and it gets you thinking. Cian says the most exciting part of the project was the building of the prototypes.

Both Cian and Charlie, along with thirty other members of the club will display their projects this coming Friday 23 February in Gort Mhuire Hall in Ballineen. Doors open at 8pm and the event runs until 10pm. All are welcome to attend, and admission is free. Catering, including tea and coffee, will be provided on the night.
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20th February, 2018  ·  

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Main course

17th February, 2018  ·  

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