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OLT launches ‘Strategic Plan 2022-2025’ at AGM

We will build a healthier, resilient and better-connected community’ – George McGowan

The capacity attendance at the AGM of the Old Library Trust in the Creggan centre last Tuesday were informed by Project Director George McGowan that ‘the new strategic plan will guide our work for the next three years and set out our ambitious goals to ensure we continue to deliver excellent programmes and services for you, the local people, and those communities we work with.’

Presenting the annual report, Mr. McGowan said: ‘Coming out of the recent pandemic, we intend to go from strength to strength at OLT. This is a time of challenge and change for us all. As you’ve heard from our facilitators today, we have continued to main a high quality of standard in all our programmes and services. We’ve added new projects tailored to meet the needs of local people, saw increasing numbers of local people engaging in our centre, whilst also welcoming new tenants, growing the internal team and giving the building a facelift to help contribute to the aesthetics and impression of the Creggan area.’

The Old Library Trust (OLT), based in the Creggan area of the city, was established in July 2001 to deliver programmes and services that improve the social, physical and mental health and wellbeing of residents living in the Creggan area.

Today, around 2300+ people come through the doors of the OLT Healthy Living Centre at Central Drive each week.

Chairperson Charlie O’Donnell welcomed members, users and public attendees, before giving an overview of the year’s activities at Old Library Trust. He also thanked the board for their continued commitment throughout what was another ‘successful year’ under difficult pandemic conditions.

After the minutes were presented and approved, the board of directors for the 2022-23 year were formally appointed. This was followed by the annual accounts’ adoption and then the project director’s annual report.

Mr. McGowan emphasised that the organisation will continue to listen to the needs of the community in delivering overall health and mental wellbeing for all and stressed this was highlighted in the release of the ‘Strategic plan’ for the next three years.

He went on to praise his staff and volunteers at the Trust and mentioned their willingness to attend new courses offered in upskilling for the benefit of the local community.

“All our staff and indeed volunteers continue to step forward, go the extra mile and learn new skills that help advance all we are trying to achieve here at OLT.

“A big thank you also to our many funders who continue to show confidence in Creggan by their unceasing support and funding.”

One of the highlights of Thursday’s AGM was testimonies from some of the service users with Liam O’Driscoll stating: ‘We couldn’t do without the Old Library Trust in Creggan. The staff do great work, run fantastic programmes that suit the local community and is very important to the Creggan.’

Another, Rachel O’Doherty praised the OLT ‘Older People and DEEDS’ programme for ‘bringing her granny out of herself’. She explained how her grandmother had developed a new self-dependency through taking part in the programme, and has blossomed over the period.

Other service users also praised the centre and what is offered to the community, mentioning some of the programmes that had ‘changed their lives’ These included the DEEDS project; First Family Hub; Healthy Lifestyles; Long Term Condition Management and the take up of the clinics within the centre.

Mr. McGowan concluded: ‘Our Strategic Plan shows how we will build a healthier resilient and better-connected community. It demonstrates how we will encourage and enable supported self-management and it sets out how we will support local families, individuals, organisations and also shows that we at OLT are committed to fighting for every one of you, to act as your voice and to help this community, city and district prosper.

‘Thank you to everyone for your continued support and let’s move forward together over the next three years.’

OLD LIBRARY TRUST AGM. . . .Group pictured at Tuesday’s Annual General Meeting of the Old Library Trust, Creggan, Derry. The Trust also launched their Strategic Plan for 2022-2025 at the event. Front from left Anna Claire Murray, Charlie O’Donnell, chair and Martina Mulhern. Back from left, Seamy Doherty, George McGowan, managing director, OLT, Sabrina Lynch and Karol McCauley. (Photos: Jim McCafferty Photography)

Health Fayres in Creggan Schools Hailed Success

The Old Library Trust, as part of the Community in Transition Project in partnership with The Bogside & Brandywell Health forum as part of Mental Health Awareness month deliver extensive Health Fayres in two Creggan schools – St. Cecilia’s College and St. Joseph’s Boys School.

The project included trained staff from both the Old library Trust and The Bogside & Brandywell health forum visiting the schools to carry out health checks on not only students, but teaching and ancillary staff as well as informing the whole school community about the range of health and wellbeing support services that are available across the local community, city, and district.

The project is part of a health and wellbeing initiative led by the Old Library Trust’s Healthy Living Centre in Creggan, partnered, and supported by the Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum and funded by the Executive Office’s ‘Communities in Transition’ project.

Communities in Transition is part of the Executive’s Action plan to support communities to become more resilient by addressing key issues associated with poor physical and mental health. The health Faye’s offered children, young people, and adults a unique insight into their own health whilst advising all those in attendance how they can make real positive steps with their own health and wellbeing challenges.

Project Coordinator Julie White at the Old Library Trust commented,

“May is Mental Health Awareness Month and we wanted to show support for our school community – to give our teachers, children, and young people the opportunity to reflect on their own health and mental wellbeing and to provide opportunity to establish connections to their local community. The Education sector and our children have had a lot to deal with over the last few years and this event proved invaluable, raising awareness and signposting people to a wide range of helpful services.”

George McGowan, Project Director at the Old Library Trust shared his views on the importance of such projects. He said,

“I would like to thank our funders at the Executive office, our partners at Bogside and Brandywell health forum as well as our local schools, the team at the Old Library Trust and anyone who played any part in both events. Everyone’s health and wellbeing has been negatively impacted over the last two years due to COVID and all the stresses that that has brought. The school community has not escaped this. These types of events go a long way to help people move forward in a more positive way to improving their health and general wellbeing.”

SCHOOLS HEALTH FAIR. . . . .Mrs. Mary Jo O’Carolan, Vice Principal, St. Cecilia’s College pictured at the start of Schools Health Fair at the school on Wednesday morning with, from left, Ciara McElhinney and Aisling Hutton, Bogside Brandywell Health Forum and Julie White and Conor Bradley, Old Library Trust. (Photos: JIm McCafferty Photography)

THANK YOU! – Two Small Words That Mean So Much!

The Old Library Trust celebrates the amazing commitment and energy of all its volunteers

Every year the Old Library Trust takes time out to celebrate their amazing volunteers during Volunteer Week and this year is no different.  Volunteer week presents an opportunity for the organisation to recognise the time, energy, commitment & dedication of a vast number of local people who give to help those most vulnerable across the city and district, in particular, those living with Dementia registered in the organisations National Lottery Community Funds DEEDS project (Dementia Engaged & Empowered in Derry & Strabane)

Project Director at the Old Library Trust George McGowan stressed,

“We couldn’t do what we do at the Old Library Trust without the support of our amazing team of volunteers. Volunteering is a very giving role, and each year we acknowledge our volunteers’ efforts by giving something back to them. This year it is a social event celebration with gifts, certificates, and plenty of appreciation. On behalf of myself, the Board of Directors, Staff, and local people I would like to say thank you for choosing to be a volunteer with the Old Library Trust.”

Sinead Devine Older Adults and DEEDS Coordinator at the Old library Trust pointed out the impact volunteering has had for those experiencing dementia in their lives. Sinead said,

“We celebrate you at this time, our Volunteers, and your gift of time to us. You help us make our members with Dementia feel at home in their social groups. You are our eyes and ears in the rooms supporting our members to get the best out of each session. Your caring, compassion, empathy, and patience have all been key to the success of the DEEDS project and its positive impact on individuals, carers, and families” At the Volunteer celebration event the Old Library Trust was also joined by a selection of partner organisations; Chris McDaid from Strabane & District Caring Services, Michelle McAdams, and Stella McCauley from Shantallow Community Centre whilst the theme of the event was titled ‘Volunteering and Health and Wellbeing’- Often volunteers are so busy in their roles that they can forget to look after themselves. Jennifer McClements from Bliss Aromatherapy then led the volunteers through a beautifully smelling workshop on how essential oils can aid wellbeing, followed by reflection, conversation and Laughs to finish a real positive afternoon.  

VOLUNTEERS CELEBRATION AT OLT. . . . .Celebrating Volunteers from DEEDS at Old Library Trust, Creggan on Wednesday afternoon. The group received certificates and were treated to an aromatherapy session in thank you for all the sterling work over the past few years. (Photos: JIm McCafferty Photography)

3,000 UU Nurses Trained in Immersive Dementia Awareness Training

The Old Library Trust’s DEEDS team marked their 8th year at Ulster University (Magee) by reaching the magnificent target of 3,000 nurses trained in the National Lottery community-funded DEEDS (Dementia Empowered & Engaged in Derry & Strabane) Project, delivering Dementia Awareness training to every nursing going through the campus.

In last week’s training, 380 students took part in experiential training over a 2-day period which also included 40 students of the first cohort of the new Paramedic Course, unique to the campus.

The DEED’s team supported by a team of dedicated volunteers, developed an immersive experiential session for the potential nurses and paramedics to help them understand and empathise with patients suffering from dementia whom they will encounter when on placement, employed on hospital wards, in care homes and across other settings.

Project Director at The Old Library Trust, George McGowan had nothing but praise for everyone involved in last week’s training at UU Magee. Stressing the importance of becoming more dementia friendly, he thanked funders and wished students every success in going forward and putting into practice what they had learned over the two days.

‘The DEEDS project continues to go from strength-to-strength, helping to support the City and District to become more Dementia friendly. Thank you to the National Lottery Community fund and to all those who buy tickets because this is the type of impact that you are having.

‘We are also indebted to Ulster University for such a positive relationship, and of course, to The DEEDS team who continue to do all they can to help raise awareness of a condition that impacts us all. Good Luck to all the students and we know that they will put all their learning into practice like those before them to help support people living with dementia and their families in our communities.”

Responding to the Director’s remarks, Dr Deirdre Harkin, Lecturer in Nursing at UU said she valued the sustained collaboration between UU and the Old Library Trust in keeping our communities dementia friendly.

‘Here at Ulster University, we value our continued collaboration with DEEDS.  Our nursing student’s education in the subject of Dementia is further enriched with these workshops, helping them to consider some the impact dementia can have on the person.

‘Only through education and training we can do our best to help create Derry and Strabane as a truly dementia friendly region.’

Sinead Devine, DEEDS Project Co-ordinator at the Old Library Trust explained the experience given to the students.

‘The session begins by taking the students away from their usual friendship network which helps the student realise how difficult it is for someone with dementia to navigate without their family support. We then have four sensory stations whereby the student’s senses are impacted upon. The students are the asked to do simple tasks which have been made more difficult due to the impairment. Asking the students to do these simple tasks with impairments can help them build up the feelings of frustration and annoyance, even worthlessness that people with dementia often experience.  After each student has experienced the four stations, the team help the students explore the feelings and emotions they have experienced and then learn more about the best way to approach these situations.”

Leaving after last week’s training, students who took part said they were impressed with the course and found the main aspects as ‘eye-opening’ and ‘well expressed.’

‘The whole scenario was very well-expressed and explained. It made me realise how scared and anxious people with dementia must feel at times.’

Another commented: ‘I felt the training was of a very high standard, highlighting all the areas that people with dementia struggle with. Very well organised. It was really eye opening and the realistic scenarios presented put me in the position of how someone with dementia feels. Very rewarding training.’

In the coming months the Old library Trust will continue to deliver a wide range of training, education, and Dementia support programmes alongside its physical and social groups across the Derry City and Strabane district council area.

If you would like more information, advice or guidance then please get in touch by contacting sinead@olt.ie, Phoning 02871 373870 or PM on any of our socials @OLTHLC

The Old Library Trust’s DEEDS Team pictured with some of the Ulster University lecturers after last week’s dementia training at Magee. (Photos: Jim McCafferty Photography)

Old Library Trust launches ‘Creggan 75’ Artwork

This year marks the 75th Year since the first homes were built in Creggan. To celebrate this milestone a range of local organisations from across all sectors, have come together to design, plan, coordinate and produce a series of programmes, activities and events that celebrate everything positive about the area.

As part of this programme of activity, the Old Library Trust in partnership with the Gasyard Wall Feile and funded by Derry City and Strabane District Council delivered a ‘Community Street Art’ piece designed by the children and young people from St. Marys Youth Club, St. Cecelia’s College, St. Josephs Boys school, Holy Child PS and St. Johns PS that celebrates what Creggan means to them.

The ‘Street Art’ piece was then produced by well-known local Artist Donal Doherty and the team from Peaball with the theme of ‘Proud Creggan’ to the fore.

George McGowan, Project Director at the Old Library Trust described how the process evolved: ‘Quite simply when the children and young people were asked what they think of when they think about Creggan, what you see on the wall is what jumped out at them!

‘All of which captures everything great about Creggan! Just look at some of the slogans – ‘My Ma & Da’, ‘My Granny’s’, ‘family’, ‘Good Neighbours’, ‘Community’, ‘Friends’, ‘Home’ as well as people and places across the area.’

Holy Child PS Principal Nicola Cullen shared her school’s experience of the project, and explained how they really bought into the project and stressed the importance of celebrating Creggan’s 75th for the whole community.

“The children really enjoyed working on the project. There voices were heard and all the energy and effort they put into it has come to fruition in an amazing display thanks to the guys at Peaball. The children now want to fill the full wall, so we need to get our heads together again. It’s important to celebrate Creggan at every opportunity we get and this year there will be many”

The Artwork has captured the imagination and hearts of local people with many more requests coming via social media and on street conversations as to what else needs to go on the wall. The Old Library Trust is looking into this and hope to add even more life to the wall over the weeks and months ahead.

Have you a suggestion for something that needs to be on the wall? Why not get in touch via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or TikTok @OLTHLC or email reception@olt.ie

Have you an idea to celebrate 75 years of Creggan? Are you running an event?

Use #ProundCreggan75 and tag away

‘Addiction…An honest conversation’ at OLT

Audience hears ‘heartfelt stories’ from recovering addict sports stars

The Old Library Trust, as part of the Community in Transition Project hosted an event at St. Cecilia’s College on Wednesday night that brought the conversation of addiction to the forefront with three established past and recent sportspeople who will share their experience of addiction.

A capacity audience listened intently as chair Raymond McCartney questioned the three panellists on how addiction, through drugs, alcohol and gambling affected their lives and the lives of those around them. All agreed that they had come through a ‘dark period’ and were in ‘different transitions’ in terms of getting over their addictions.

The three – Oisin McConville, former Armagh County Captain and current TV pundit, public speaker and Gaelic coach, Sean Friars Ex-Liverpool academy player who shared a pitch with Micheal Owen and Steven Gerrard, and played for Ipswich town, Derry City, Dungannon swifts and Institute FC and current Cliftonville FC Derry native Connor McDermott – all related their experiences with the hope of helping others within the local community.

The project, was part of a health and wellbeing initiative led by the Old Library Trust’s Healthy Living Centre in Creggan, partnered, and supported by the Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum and funded by the Executive Office’s ‘Communities in Transition’ project.

Communities in Transition is part of the Executive’s Action plan on tackling paramilitary activity, criminality, and organised crime. It aims to support communities where there has been a significant history of paramilitary activity and coercive control, to become more resilient.

The initiative aims to support communities to become more resilient by addressing a key issue associated with poor physical and mental health – Addiction – an issue that has been highlighted within the local area with negative impacts on individuals and families.

The event offered a unique insight into addiction with an open and honest conversation by respected individuals in the sporting world sharing their story and advice on how people within the local area can make some positive steps in the right direction with their own addiction challenge.

Speaking on the night Oisin McConville explained how gambling stripped him of his emotions and that ‘I would have sold my mother to get a bet on!’  spoke emotionally on being a slave to a gambling addiction for sixteen years wreaked havoc in his life and that sport was the only thing that kept him alive. He spoke proudly of the fact that ‘My last bet was on 12th October, 2005’. He added that now he was in a happier place and stressed how important his wife and family were in his life now. Oisin now gives something back as he works as an addiction counsellor and stressed that he is still ‘a work in progress.’

Local Galliagh man and ex-footballer Sean Friars said we all need to ‘learn the importance of self-care and find that balance in life. He also said family played a large part in him getting through addiction. He relived his experiences of leaving Derry and going to a big club like Liverpool as a youngster. Loneliness played a major part in his downfall. He recounted of numerous phone calls home when he went to a call box and was always telling his parents things were great and he was getting on well in life. Then ‘On the way back to the digs, the tears were tripping me! I would’ve spent time standing outside the digs settling myself down before going into the landlady, so embarrassed as I was. His advice to the audience was ‘drugs and drink stripped me of everything – find help, don’t let it happen to you!’

The youngest of the three, Cliftonville footballer and Culmore native, Connor McDermott described how at a young age and while still at college he got an adrenaline rush from putting on his first bet. The promising young footballer went into detail how gambling took over his teen years and affected his life in many ways – his sport, his friendships and family. He poignantly recollected on how his mother forgave him, even after he stole a large sum of money from her.

‘I got lost in the darkness of addiction, I couldn’t find a way out! It’s imperative you talk and find a way out, be it through family, friends or professional counselling.’

He added that in three weeks time he will have achieved a calendar year without placing a bet and hoped his family were as proud of him as he was of himself.

Project Director of the Old Library Trust summed the evening up by saying…..