Magherafelt High School, Staff Self-Care Twilight Session

The Staff of Magherfelt High School were “Treated” to a “Self-Care” Awareness raising session on the evening of 17th November. Together we looked at the value of Self Care and used a variety of means, (Personal reflection,story, music and video) to assist in prioritising this important area of our lives.

Thanks to Steven and Emma, for organising the event and to all the staff their participation and cooperation during the session. Hopefully it will have been of  value.

The message of the evening is best summed up in the picture below.



CLG Eoghan Rua – (Coleraine) Connections Programme

I spent last evening with a group of interested club members and officers, players, managers and parents form CLG Eoghan Rua, Coleraine.Our aim was to raise awareness around the issue of Suicide amongst the attendees and to break the stigma enshrowding this “Great Big Elephant” in the room, as one participant so aptly described it.

But what is the “Connections” Programme all about?

The “Connections” Programme we followed, is the first of three levels of Suicide training provided by “Dare To Stretch”, the others being “safeTALK” (Level 2) and ASSIST (Level 3).

In the programme we considered the impact of suidcide on individuals and families, as well as looking at possible causes and “signs”, and how we might react appropriately to these. Central to our discussion is the World Health Organisation’s short video “The Black Dog” which helps generate discussion by explaining the problem of depression.

As in any open and genuine discussion, we found, that just as with suicide itself, there were many more questions than answers, but we recognised that through such “Awareness Raising”  sessions, where people are free to air their thoughts we can challenge the “taboo”.

We looked at the factors that might make some individuals more vulnerable to suicide than others,with particular attention paid to the impact of Alcohol and how it can lead to the “Impulsive” suicide.

In the end, we concluded that it is only by “asking” that we can begin the process of helping those we have concerns about. The asking can help bring that much needed initial relief, and the knowledge that someone cares enough to ask me how I am, what I’m feeling and if I may be contemplating suicide.

We round of the programme, by looking at actual “Connections” and how by taking one small step towards someone we can make a massive, possibly lifesaving difference. We use “Connect 4” to illustrate 4 main Connections any one of which can help initiate a new way of thinking for a person at risk.

These are:-

1)Connect to help Eg. Emergency Services, Family member or GP

2) Connect to the person at risk, If you know them well enough to know there’s something wrong,chances are you have made that connection,you may have to re-connect though by outlining your evidence or reasons for concern.

3) Connect with Suicide, establish whether or not we are actually talking about suicide. The only way to do this is to ask.


4) Connect with their Story. What’s been happening for this person that has made the pain of living so difficult. Simply Listening, giving them time to talk and showing that you care enough to help can have a major influence.

Someone said at our session last night, “That you would always hope that you would never have to ask” but in the asking you can make a difference, if only to one person,one family,one,community,one team,one life.

“It makes a difference to this one” Watch The Starfish Story” by clicking on the link below.

The World Health Organisation video on Depression, “The Black Dog” can be viewed on the link below.

Connections Session

Had a very productive session with the parents of Magherafelt High School last evening, whilst delivering “The Connections”, Suicide Awareness Programme. Thanks for the excelent turnout, and the invite from school’s Pastoral Care Head Mrs Emma Beckett. A pleasure to work with such an open and inviting group of people.
The programme, from “Dare to Stretch”, tackles the issue of Suicide, by:-  1) Exploring existing connections and 2) Encouraging the establishment of  “Connections”,  as a means of preventing or coping with emotional distress.


Toome Community Allotment Project

Watch this space for further details of a twelve week programme I will be delivering in the “New” Toome Community Allotments, beginning on Monday the 9th of November 2015.
The focus will initially be on the advantages of “Green Exercise” and Horticultural Therapy, as we take a community approach to developing what is still a “green field” site, into a thriving community allotment project.
It is free to participate and all are welcome to join in regardless of previous experience.imageimageimageimage

“Flourish” – Self-Care Clergy Day- Rostrevor

Looking forward to Piloting the initial “Flourish”, Self-Care, Clergy Day, in Rostrevor Monastery this Thurday 29th October 2015.

The Programme:
This programme offers clergy a safe space for growth in wellbeing, the session will Include time to be thoughtful, time to rest, time to revive and refuel oneself.
The programme will be presented through a range of facilitative methodologies including presentations, personal and group reflections and experiential learning. The programme aims to be engaging, interesting, accomodating of a range of learning styles and accessibel for a range of different personalities, genders ages and backgrounds.

There will be three key themes which will be explored throughout the day and are:
The effects of working with compassion for caregivers.
From human doing to human being. Assess and review personal wellbeing.
Techniques for self care, self regulation and nervous system relaxation

For booking purposes please use the link below.

Suicide Awareness Training for Students of Magherafelt High

Last Tuesday I spent a most enjoyable day with the Year 14 Students of Magherafelt High School. My task was to incorporate a number of Personal Development,Refelective and “Fun”  Elements into “Dare to Stretch’s” “Connections” and “SafeTALK” programmes. Such an appoach can lighten up what can otherwise be a difficult yet so important day for our young people.

Thanks to Aine Wallace from Dare to Stretch for having me along, and to Mrs Emma Bolton and her fantastic group of year 14s for their warm welcome and excellent participation on the day.


Beating The Winter Blues


With the clocks rolling back last night giving us all an extra hour in bed, there will come the realisation for many, that the “Long Dark lonely nights are back”. This can be a very difficult period for many and not just those who live on their own. There’s something unatural about arising when its still dark and coming “Home in the evening” when it is already dark.

For many the changing of the clocks is the precursor to “The Christmas Rush”, and the worry of making it through it all, this year again. Added financial burdens regarding food,heating and warm clothing can all lead to a drop in general “day to day” mood in a large sector of the population. For others, the memories of happier times with loved ones, who for whatever reason, are no longer with us, can be tremendously difficult to bear.

With the weather now colder, and less daylight hours available, many retreat from their normal life-giving activites of summer. We tend to exercise less, go out less, meet less people and participate in fewer community social events. We tend to lay down in the path of the “Winter Blues”, and permit it to walk completely all over us, and mess up our mood in the process.

Being somewhat “Scrooge-like” myself, and therefore one who cowers from the merriment and joy of the Christmas Season, I too, more often than not, have succumed to the depressive spirits of winter. A combination of life circumstances lead to me dreading the turn of the days each year, but in time, I found out that facing those fears, and comimg to know that “This too shall pass”, brought about a much needed remedy for the winter blues.

Instead of curling up to die to life as it was, I now open myself up to the new possibilities of the long, dark winter evenings, and think of new areas in which to skill myself and have some fun.


Over the years I’ve given language classes and Jiving and Sean Nós Dancing a whirl. I’ve helped produce plays and stage shows. I’ve renewed Gym memberships, swam multiple lengths of my local swimming pool and bought extra warms layers in which to walk and walk in.

In the end I often actually found myself sorry the winter season was over, but did realise that ultimately the seasons, just like life itself are cyclical and need each other. We too need the sleep of winter to restore ourselves, as much as the earth itself benefits from the rest of winter, allowing a new year to spring forth.

In what way might you try to skill yourself and have more fun this winter?

Entering the World of The Blogg

Having resisted the temptation to flock with “The Masses” into the world of Social Media,I have finally succumbed to the lure of Twitter, Facebook and now finally a Blog with WordPress.

Whilst I always fancied my own website, I never felt as though I had much to contribute to the WWW.

However as I have  continued to delve into the world of “Personal Development”, I have realised the need to develop this blog/site, in order to finally have a place of reference for clients “old and new”.

Many people no longer have the patience, energy nor time allowing them to browse and peruse the many different sites and links to the information and writings pertinent to the issues concerning them. It is my wish, that I can compile this bank of information containing many resources that will be of use to them.