Two Galway organisations awarded Vhi Health & Wellbeing Fund Grants

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Niamh Walker, Vhi and Lucy Masterson, CEO, Irish Youth Foundation. Pic: Naoise Culhane

Two Galway organisations are among a total of eleven projects across the country to be awarded grants from the inaugural Vhi Health and Wellbeing Fund.

Vhi and the Irish Youth Foundations (IYF) announced today that the two Galway groups set to receive grants are Clowns Without Borders Ireland and ARD Family Resource Centre.

Clowns Without Borders will support children living in Direct Provision in Galway and Dublin through their ‘Ripples of Laughter’ programme.

Over 13 weeks, young people will be given the opportunity to partake in theatre and circus workshops designed to help with anxiety management.

ARD Family Resource Centre was also awarded the grant, to deliver “Connected Me” – a 6-week wellbeing programme for young people.

The programme is designed to help provide young people with the social and emotional supports as wells as encouraging them to engage in physical activity and learn more about their bodies and the impact their physical wellbeing has on it.

The Vhi Health and Wellbeing Fund, which opened for applications in September last year, was created to fund projects that were seeking to strengthen resilience in young people and help them manage anxiety.

The Fund was established at a critical time for the youth sector and when research by IYF revealed that three in four youth leaders in Ireland were seeing an increase in the number of young people needing their support.

Non-profit charity organisations who work directly with young people or with adults who surround them located in Galway, Donegal, Limerick, Cork, Kilkenny and Dublin were invited to apply.

“At Vhi, our mission is to help our customers live longer, stronger, healthier lives but we also want our local communities to have the opportunity to achieve this goal too,” said John O’Dwyer, Chief Executive of Vhi.

“The community we all live in has become increasingly important in the past year as we’ve all lived through various restrictions, which meant we were confined to our homes and our local area – more so than we would have previously been used to.”

John O’Dwyer said that through this fund, they wanted to support young people and help the organisations they engage with to provide the supports that are so critical at the moment to help them navigate this period.

“We received so many worthy applications, but the eleven of them really stood out to the panel of judges,” he said.

“We look forward to seeing these ideas delivered in coming months and wish you all the best of luck in doing this.”

Lucy Masterson, CEO, Irish Youth Foundation, said that they were delighted to partner with Vhi to launch this fund during such a critical time for the youth sector.

“Research conducted by the IYF last year not only highlighted an urgent need for this kind of support among young people, but a downturn of funding available to deliver meaningful programmes dedicated to mental health,” said Lucy.

“The impact of Covid has only exasperated these trends with the damage yet to be fully realised, especially in disadvantaged communities.

“The turnout of applications was fantastic, and I have taken comfort in the knowledge that these vital and often lifesaving programmes will be able to run.”