Sligo Take Home Best Mental Health Initiative Award at the Local Authority All Ireland Community and Council Awards 2024

Sligo Take Home Best Mental Health Initiative Award at the Local Authority All Ireland Community and Council Awards 2024

Sligo County Council has won the Best Mental Health Initiative at the Local Authority All Ireland Community and Council Awards 2024 for the Sligo Comhairle na nÓg LGBTI+ animation “Here for You”.

The awards were hosted by the Local Authority Members Association (LAMA) to celebrate community and councils working together and provide the opportunity to highlight and celebrate the work done within our communities.

Sligo Comhairle na nÓg is one of 31 child and youth councils established in the local authority structures across the country.  Their purpose is to give children and young people the opportunity to be involved in the development of local services and policies.

Sligo Comhairle na nÓg group1 Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council, Cllr Gerard Mullaney and Chair of Sligo Local Community Development Committee (LCDC) Cllr Dara Mulvey with members of Sligo Comhairle na nÓg who spearheaded the “Here for You” Initiative.

Award Winning Animation “Here For You” – What is it about?

“Here for You’, is a short animation designed by young people and targeted at young people within the LGBTI+ community in Sligo aged 12-17.  The initiative aims to raise awareness of the supports and services in Sligo town and online to the LGBTI+ community.  To help young people realise that that they are not alone and that there are services to help young people who are struggling with their identity, or just still finding their way. 

 Here For You2

The initiative is a collaboration between Sligo County Council, its Comhairle na nÓg and Foróige with creative animation provided by Studio Meala.  The Initiative was funded by the Department of Rural Community Development under the 2021 Dormant Accounts Funding for LGBTI+ organisations. The purpose of the Dormant Account funding was to help provide services to LGBTI+ organisations nationwide, targeting marginalised people experiencing exclusion on account of their LGBTI+ identities.  The Department’s call to action referenced research which shows that LGBTI+ individuals living in small towns and rural areas can be very isolated.  This is brought about by a combination of factors including LGBTI+ identities and difficulty coming out, age, lack of LGBTI+ friendly spaces and geographical gaps in community supports.

“Here for you” built upon work undertaken by Sligo Comhairle na nÓg in 2023 in relation to the mental health of young people. It addresses “the growing wave of intimidation targeted at the LGBTI+ community causing discrimination and contributing to mental health issues and isolation”.

The development of “Here for you” was innovative in taking a need expressed by young people in Sligo via its representative forum and coming up with a concept that is effective and simple but yet powerful in communicating that young people from the LGBTI+ community are not alone. The funding of €15k from the Department enabled the procurement of a reputable studio such as Studio Meala who also saw the value in the project and who were experienced with the needs of the LGBTI+ community. Thus the company provided added value at no extra cost to the project to enable a respectful, informative and high quality project be developed. The result is a powerful short product for use on social media which is short and snappy to compete in a world of full of distractions and ever-changing news feeds.

Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council Councillor Gerard Mullaney has shown ongoing support to the initiative having officially launched it in November, 2023 at ATU, Sligo.  Speaking on the remarkable achievement, and commending the Comhairle na nÓg, he commented that

“Young people have the potential to develop initiatives that are mature, responsible, engaging and effective.  Through this Initiative the Comhairle na nÓg became empowered to make a difference in people’s lives”.

It is the hope of the Comhairle naÓg and all those involved in this in this initiative that “Here For You” will go some way to helping young people in realising they are not alone and realise that there are services out there in Sligo and online to help young people who are struggling with their identity, or just still finding their way.

All relevant local agencies such as Sligo County Council, ATU, Foróige, North Connaught Youth Service, Tusla (SLCYPSC – Sligo Leitrim Children and Young Peoples Services Committee), etc are supportive of the project and have committed to actively support promotion of the Initiative. 

Sligo Comhairle na nÓg group2 L-R Conor O’Neill Foróige, Aisling Smyth Administrative Officer Sligo County Council, Karen Tonry Youth Supports Sligo Leader Partnership Clg, Clare Gavigan Regional Manager Foróige, Cllr Gerard Mullaney, Cathaoirleach Sligo County Council, Kate Gibbons Senior Staff Officer Sligo County Council, Maeve Whittington Sligo Leitrim Co-ordinator CYPSC, Tara Gavin Foróige, Marcella Mc Garry Healthy Ireland Co-ordinator, Sligo County Council, Edel Kenny Assistant Principal Officer DRCD.