We need donations to allow us to keep on providing our support services and training programmes for people. We also need money to pay our staff who deliver the services and develop our training. And money is also needed to cover the costs of our highly trained and dedicated volunteers who work alongside our staff and without whom we could not provide any of our services.
It costs £500,000 a year to provide our support groups, information stands, helpline, life skills programmes and depression awareness training for young people in schools and older people in care. Please know that your contribution towards this really does make a big difference to people’s lives that would otherwise be shattered by depression. This is what some of the people we have helped tell us about the difference we have made to their lives...
‘The education about my illness, combined with the support, insight and mutual understanding I have received for my depression from Aware, has kept me going for the last eight years.’
'The support of Aware has been multifaceted and continuous through periods of recovery as well as illness; firstly, through Aware I was able to access information about Bipolar illness that was accurate, easy to read, up to date and free. I can not overstate how crucial this is to an individual trying to come to terms with an illness that is still overarched by stigma and misconceptions and not discussed openly. The more I knew about Bipolar, the less terrified I became.
Secondly, with confidence gained through information, I began attending Support Group meetings. As a very busy working single parent, these meetings provided a vital outlet for my feelings. I had time and space in which I could be honest about how I was feeling. I was listened to by people who truly understood - this was the first time in my life I had had such support. Now I didn't feel so isolated.'
'I have been living with depression for many years but two years ago I was as they say "at the end of my tether”. I didn’t know how to cope or where to turn to. Sitting in the hospital waiting room I noticed the poster for Aware. I had seen it many times before but this time I really read it. When I went home I phoned the helpline and I can honestly say that the help, support and encouragement I got changed my life. I was told about the support groups but at first I was very reluctant and afraid. I felt so bad how could these strangers help? Somewhere inside me a voice said ‘give it a go’ so that Thursday I went to the support group in Lisburn the nearest one to me.
I nearly didn’t go in, opening that door was one of the most stressful things I have ever done and I sat down petrified. But something about the atmosphere in the room, the calmness of the facilitator, the openness of the group members got through to me and despite spending most of the time in tears I was able to tell my story. The knowledge of confidentiality, the support but most of all the lack of judgement, made a deep impression on me. I left that first meeting with a sense of lightness and a feeling of hope. Thursdays became a focal point of my week no matter how bad I felt I knew that the group would be there for me – to listen, accept and in that way help. I always left a group feeling better than when I went in.
'When I first approached our committee about holding a talk about mental health issues, I will admit that most thought "Oh dear- more negativity?” However, we could not have been more wrong or more pleasantly surprised. We thought it would work well for our group, ATLNI Futures Forum. We are run in conjunction with ATL- the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, and are based out of Belfast. It is a group of student and newly qualified teachers who want to get a voice to teachers just starting out in the profession. We approached AWARE to help us run a morning seminar which would give us more information on helping our members understand mental health issues.
Throughout the morning, we were introduced to what mental health is and why maintaining it in our life is so important. Most of us considered the most important part of the morning was that we blew the old stereotypes of mental health issues out of the water. No longer is mental health problems seen as something that should be acknowledged and then quietly shelved away. We were shown many photographs of celebrities that have dealt with or are currently dealing with the sickness. We felt that our students would be more apt to acknowledge their problems if they were certain others had been through the same thing.
After the session, none of us walked out with the same conceptions as we walked in with, especially for those of us who had seen mental health issues first hand. It is true, there is ALWAYS light at the end of the tunnel. I would personally recommend this course for anyone wanting to know more. Thanks to Ron McDowell and AWARE for a job well done.’