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Pictured is Mayor Cllr William McCaughey at Islandmagee Community Garden on Wednesday.
Pictured is Mayor Cllr William McCaughey at Islandmagee Community Garden on Wednesday.

Press release -

NHLP conservation and gardening projects making Borough bloom

Community groups across the Borough were delighted to receive funding from the Northern Healthy Lifestyle Partnership (NHLP) in 2020, with Council's conservation and gardening projects now being finalised.

The NHLP funding stream is managed by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT).

Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Cllr William McCaughey, said: “Council has worked with NHSCT on a number of projects recently and we were delighted to be able to support more community groups via the NHLP funding stream.

"Gardens can be great for the environment and wildlife, and they are good for people too, research consistently shows. The NHS consider exercise to be essential to living a healthy and fulfilling life and it’s medically proven that people who do regular physical activity have up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Physical and mental illnesses associated with our increasingly sedentary urban lifestyles have a growing economic and social cost. Gardening can play a key role in helping to keep you fit and healthy - 30 minutes of gardening is comparable to playing badminton, volleyball or practising yoga.

"As well as this, gardening can lead to significant reductions in depression and anxiety, can improve social functioning, and can help maintain independence and prevent cognitive decline. Research, specific to gardens and gardening, is increasingly supporting what we already know about green space - which includes private gardens, parks, woodlands and wilderness – that it is hugely beneficial for health and wellbeing and should be protected and enhanced.”

Sandra Anderson, NHLP Co-coordinator, said “We were pleased to allocate funding to support five projects in Mid and East Antrim as part of our work to encourage and promote healthy lifestyles. I have been delighted to learn how local communities have been able to directly benefit from this support.

"Gracehill Community Association made improvements to the looped walk around village including Gods Acre, which has included signage, railings, seating, heritage planting and community walk and clean up activities. Wakehurst Residents made improvements to King George V Park which include mature cherry and beech tree specimens planted around the boundary of park to add interest and biodiversity value, and new floral displays.

"Harryville HEAT volunteers have helped isolated members of the community by completing garden improvement works such as planting bulbs, shrubs and trees, woodwork, painting, and clean ups. The volunteers have also provided some much needed social interaction to isolated residents during what has been a particularly challenging year. The Island Gardening group based in Islandmagee were able to explore the heritage of Islandmagee via a community willow-weaving programme. Working with Welig Crafts, the group have now installed a large ‘herb gatherer’ willow sculpture beside the Island Community Garden, and hope to encourage more people to visit the garden and to attract more members to the gardening club. This sculpture also acts as a welcoming and standout feature along the two main entrance routes into Islandmagee.

"Finally, Carrickfergus Mens Shed will be creating a community garden which will feature a small polytunnel, storage unit, raised beds, small fruit trees, pollinator friendly plants, and fruit and vegetables. They will also organise a series of Grow Your Own workshops for members. This will be an important outdoor space for members to meet up safely to socialise and get some gentle exercise in the form of gardening.”

Cllr McCaughey concluded: “We were very impressed during our visit to Islandmagee Community Garden. The volunteers passion and dedication proves why it’s so important for Council and partners, such as NHSCT, to support gardening initiatives. 

"It’s great to see such a range of projects happening across Mid and East Antrim, I look forward to seeing them all flourish.”

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Press contacts

Chris Kilpatrick

Chris Kilpatrick

Press contact Head of Communications 07721 302 568
Annamay McNally

Annamay McNally

Press contact Press Officer 07721 305 586
Deborah Cummings

Deborah Cummings

Press contact Press Officer 07920 544 094
Megan Mackay

Megan Mackay

Press contact Press Officer 07827 802 643

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Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is a multi-award winning local authority which leads the way in the transformation of ever-more efficient and improved public services for its 139,000 citizens.

The traditional engine room of the Northern Ireland economy, the borough has a proud manufacturing heritage, diverse and dynamic business community, and a rapidly expanding tourism and hospitality sector.

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