Life Change Changes Lives (LCCL) is a group going from strength to strength. Originally set up in 2015, they provide counselling, therapy, training and activities to help people in their community overcome mental health issues and addictions.
Using activities like Art as Therapy and work experience, they help people to tackle mental ill health, social isolation, lack of opportunity, offending, addiction, suicide and self-harm, and assist people to become more life and work ready.
Supporting Communities got involved in July 2017 when they were referred to us through the Housing Executive’s Downpatrick District. Our Community Development Officer, Orla McCann, has been working with the group to explore funding opportunities to help them become more sustainable in addition to providing advice on committee roles and potential future projects.
One of their most successful ventures, the Pop-Up Art Project, has been running for three years and attracts 20-25 people daily to participate in Art as Therapy where they up-cycle and redesign furniture that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
The project acts as a medium for people to open up and discuss their feelings, which can be developed further through one-to-one counselling if they choose.
This is a real passion project for Manus and Ailish Teague, who have both given up their previous lines of work to concentrate on this project (more than) full time. The people who benefit from this project are all meaningfully involved in leading its delivery. All participants, whether they are coordinators, volunteers or members are equal actors in the project, not passive recipients, ensuring they have an active stake in the project.
The group is now into its second year of funding from the Big Lottery which covers part of their administration costs and part of their counselling costs. They have also recently moved to a town centre location on Market Street, Downpatrick. The front part of the new premises displays the upcycled furniture completed by service users which is also on sale to the public and there is studio space at the back where the art work is completed.
“Orla has been great coming down to us. The regular meetings with her really help”, says Ailish. “I need a deadline to work to and Orla gives me leads to try for new funding streams which are well suited for our project.”
Looking to the future, the group are exploring additional ways of employing service users to learn new skills and build up their self-confidence. They hope to expand into online marketing and sales of the upcycled furniture to grow the existing social enterprise side of the venture.
“This is a very exciting project with a lot of potential”, said Orla McCann, Community Development Officer. “There is a lot of very valuable work going on here with some of the most vulnerable people in our society. We are continuing to help them secure funding and our Social Value Officer, Anita Doonan, is helping them to understand impact and social value so they can effectively demonstrate the very real worth of the work they do.”