Minister of State for Public Health, Well Being and National Drugs Strategy, Deputy Frank Feighan, visited St Kieran’s Community Centre in Athlone in recent times to launch Sláintecare Healthy Communities Westmeath.
The launch, in St Kieran’s Community Centre, commenced with Cathaoirleach of Westmeath County Council, Cllr Aengus O’Rourke welcoming the Minister to the area noting that the community centre was built from the hard work and vision of local people living and working in the locality.
“Those who contributed to the community cente recognised the need for better services and supports for people living in and around Athlone, so in that regard we are proud that the Sláintecare Healthy Communities Westmeath launch is being held here, a community event in this community setting,” Cllr O’Rourke stated.
Minister Feighan stated that Sláintecare Healthy Communities is a collective programme wher all those involved work together to ensure that communities in greatest need are supported to live longer healthier lives.
“The health services cannot make these changes happen alone. To make real and lasting change we need to work together to create communities where people can thrive. Our local community partners know better than anyone else what challenges this community faces and the strengths within it. They have the relationships and trust of the community and will be a key to the success of this programme as they are already imbedded into your community.
“I would like to recognise and thank all the communities themselves and in particular the residents associations, community groups and volunteers in each of the Westmeath RAPID areas. These dedicated volunteers who give so much of their time and energy are doing incredible work and are invaluable. Without the assistance of these dedicated volunteers, the work of the agencies and services would be so much more difficult,” Minister Feighan added.
The third speaker HSE Community Health Organisation Midlands Louth Meath Head of Service Health and Wellbeing, Mairead Lyons.
“I’m delighted to be involved in the launch of the Healthy Communities initiative in Westmeath. By adopting an inter-agency approach, Sláintecare Healthy Communities takes a rounded, inclusive and all-encompassing view of promoting health and wellbeing in the community. I’m confident that the initiative will have positive outcomes for the community,” Ms Lyons commented.
Ms Lyons also discussed the variety of different programmes that are available in the Westmeath area as part of the Sláintecare Healthy Communities programme including the Stop Smoking Service - ‘We Can Quit’, Parenting Programmes, Healthy Food Made Easy, Social Prescribing and MECC.
The final speaker, Ms Geraldine Lacey, CEO of Youth Work Ireland Midlands, spoke about the potential of the Healthy Communities programme to make a real difference in the Sláintecare RAPID areas of Westmeath in relation to the determinants of health going forward.
“The HSE funded projects include Healthy Food Made Easy, delivered by Athlone Family Resource Centre, ‘We Can Quit’ smoking cessation programme, delivered in the community by Youth Work Ireland Midlands, Triple P Parenting Programme (Junior ), delivered by Barnardos Family Support Project and Social Prescribing, delivered by Athlone Family Resource Centre, is part of a holistic approach to addressing the health and wellbeing needs of individuals by supporting them to access a range of services and groups based on what is important to them, their interests, and their personal goals. These projects are focused on “what matters to the person” rather than “what is the matter with the person”.
Acknowledging additional developments which have benefited the local community, Ms Lacey praised the close collaboration of all partners which enabled such projects to come to fruition.
“The Slaintecare approach acknowledges the effectiveness of collaborative working and it is rewarding to see this programme launched here in Athlone where groups and agencies have a long history of partnership working to deliver on community development programmes,” Ms Lacey concluded.