Omagh Support Group aim to provide Social Support to its members to reduce social isolation levels and enhance confidence levels, as outlined in the recent Needs Analysis and Strategic Plan of Omagh Support Group 2010-2013. This includes offering Befriending Training, Social Outings and Respite Trips. It is important for us to adhere to our mission statement which is: to allow our members to embark on a personal journey where they can recover, grow and sustain a sense of wellbeing. Members of the Omagh Support Group will be at the centre of all activity and the focus will be on moving forward into a shared future. Therefore, by creating opportunities for our members to interact socially, this will enhance a range of social skills, and with the overall aim of helping members on their personal journey towards healing and recovery.
THE OUTCOMES OF SOCIAL SUPPORT WITHIN MEMBERS ARE AS FOLLOWS;
- Reaching out to vulnerable individuals and socially isolated
- Creating opportunities whereby members can interact with other members in a safe environment
- Members can offer one another lower level emotional support
- Increasing members’ information & knowledge
- Promoting Physical activity
- Reducing stress levels
- Improving confidence levels
- Dealing with history of Northern Ireland
WHY WE NEED SOCIAL SUPPORT
Reiterating our Needs Analysis Research which illustrated high levels of social isolation. Social Isolation was reported by over half of respondents who identified issues they would like support with. In particular, respondents expressed the need for meeting up with individuals/groups who share similar experiences and therefore shared understandings. Supporting through friendships and group solidarity was felt to have high significance and belonging to the Omagh Support Group , members can rely on one another for lower level emotional support. Therefore, it is important that Omagh Support Group ensure appropriate and relevant provision of Respite Outings, Social Events, Befriending etc. By adhering to our strategic Development Plan, we can address the very important Strategic objective of Reaching out to Vulnerable & Socially isolated through the aid of our funding structure.
McDougal (2007) noted that the real cost of the Troubles needs to be considered within the context of human suffering, and this is particularly evident when looking at social isolation of victims and survivors. If we look at the Troubles in Northern Ireland purely in terms of lives lost, it would appear that Tyrone suffered third worst ranked by county. Analysis of the Sutton Index of Deaths by location of the individual indicates that 10% of fatalities occurred in Tyrone. Therefore, it is clear that there are a large number of people in the local area who have experience a traumatic event and many may be feeling vulnerable and socially isolated.
Through the research carried out in the development of Omagh Support Group’s 3 year strategic plan the evidence provided showed the need for such activities. The activities will help to socially develop the Omagh Support Group members and assist them in moving on into a shared society.
HOW SOCIAL SUPPORT HELPS MEMBERS
Social Support enables members to begin to make the transition from victim to survivor as part of a process of healing and recovery through a number of ways:
- Increasing Social Activity , meaning members are interacting with one another in a relaxed and enjoyable manner
- Enhancing confidence levels by building on communication skills
- Reducing social isolation and strengthening group solidarity
- Reducing stress levels
- Giving members the confidence to move forward, beyond past pain and suffering
- Increasing physical fitness which in turn has a positive contribution to mental health and well-being
WHAT DOES SOCIAL SUPPORT AT OMAGH SUPPORT GROUP CONSIST OF?
Social Support activities include respite and residential outings. Members have enjoyed visiting the following places recently;
- Corrymeela Residential
- Titanic Museum
- Giants Causeway
- Old Lamas Fair Ballycastle
- Ulster American Folk Park
- W5 Belfast
- Inishowen Gateway Hotel
- Boyne Centre
- Dublin Zoo
- Donegal Town
Members are encouraged to inform the staff and/or committee members of the places and areas they would like to visit. Therefore, the social support programme, alongside all the other programmes, is needs based.
Social Support also involves providing advice to members when needed. Omagh Support Group assist members in the completion of forms, assistance when they require help and support. Omagh Support Group also provide a referrals system whereby members, by the help of the staff, can meet with the relevant agencies who can further assist them with their queries. Advice and support is free of charge to members at Omagh Support and Self help Group.
It is the intention that the above activities benefit members in the following ways:
- To promote social interaction and reduce loneliness and social isolation. Many of our members are elderly and the respite trips can be a lifeline to their mental well being.
- To encourage an understanding and respect of the cultural diversity i.e. trip to Bushmills and Belfast Museum. The trips will be provided with a tour guide who will share the history of the area in which learning will result.
- To promote physical activity as a means of reducing stress and promoting positive health promoting activity. This will also assist our members to foster relationships and improve social interaction.