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Snow Patrol star donates £10,000 to Coalisland charity


ONE of the North’s most famous musicians has given a massive Christmas boost to a Coalisland mental health charity.

In the days before the festive holidays, Joe Coney who runs the Mid Ulster Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (MACP) said he was contacted by a person seeking to make a donation to his charity.

When Joe enquired further, he found out that the lead singer of Snow Patrol – Gary Lightbody – was making a £10,000 donation to his counselling service which is bringing vital help to hundreds of local people.

In recent years – the singer who has hit the top of the charts with ‘Take Back The City’ and ‘Chasing Cars’ – has spoken of his own personal battles with depression, vertigo, writer’s block and alcohol.

Revealing this heart-warming act of generosity by the Bangor star, Joe Coney said, “Gary Lightbody very kindly wanted to donate £10,000.00 to MACP through the Lightbody Foundation, and we, MACP, were one of five charities in the whole of the North to receive such an amazing amount of money.

“Just as importantly, this is a fantastic testament to the hard work and dedication of all of our volunteers who provide amazing support to those with mental health difficulties.

“To say we are extremely surprised and extremely grateful most definitely is an understatement.”

Joe praised the musician for speaking out on mental health. He continued, “I suppose the moral of the story is no matter how famous someone is, depression and addiction does not discriminate nor does it take prisoners.

“But Gary, his sister Sarah, one of Gary’s best friends Davy Matchett and others who work on behalf of the Lightbody Foundation, use their influence and of course some of their finances to help ordinary people just like you and I, regardless of race colour or creed.

“So a massive thank you to Gary, Sarah and Davy and all at the Lightbody Foundation, we can absolutely guarantee this money will be used in the fight to support those who are struggling with mental health issues right here in Coalisland, Mid-Ulster and indeed the whole of Northern Ireland.

“What a fabulous Christmas gift which came just at the right time.”

Earlier this year, the Coalisland charity moved into larger premises and in turn increased the level of service and counselling for those in need.

The new mental health hub includes a new office, disability toilets, a staff kitchen, one large training room, two waiting areas, three counselling rooms, and full disabled access with a lift, to ensure facilities are accessible to all within the community.

Mr Coney who is himself a qualified counsellor told the Herald this year that more young people were experiencing anxiety, some of which was caused by the constant uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

Not only does MACP provide life-saving help to those suffering from a range of psychological difficulties but also gives student counsellors the opportunity to work in the field.

If you or any of your family, friends or colleagues are in need of support, please contact MACP to make an appointment. The service is free of charge and confidential. You can attend for just a few sessions, or for as long as you need the help. Contact MACP by calling 028 8774 6375.


Kiverco invest 5k in Mid Ulster Mental Health Services


Mid Ulster Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy is relocating to a brand-new state-of-the-art building located in Coalisland, Co Tyrone. The centre due to open at its new location in August, offers free counselling services to anyone who resides or works within the Mid Ulster area. The MACP charity offers guidance on a number of issues that can affect mental health including stress, bereavement, suicide, abuse, redundancy, and work pressures.  The charity also works closely with youth groups and schools to highlight issues such as online bullying, substance abuse, and self-image/eating disorders. To assist with furnishing and resourcing the facilities with the equipment needed to support clients, the charity commenced a large fundraising effort with a target of £15k.  


Anne McKiver, owner of Kiverco explained why she decided to support MACP, “This is an extraordinary charity that offers free support to anyone struggling with mental health in our community. As part of our health and wellbeing programme within Kiverco, we have partnered with MACP to offer mental health support to our employees and their families. The charity has already saved the lives of many people in our community and Kiverco were delighted to lend a hand with financial support to ensure that they can continue to support many more families in the future. 2020 and the Coronavirus pandemic has had an effect on so many families in Northern Ireland and mental health support is more important than ever. Kiverco’s donation is only one of many within the local area, but we are delighted to play our part in this community initiative.”


The new mental health hub will house a new office, disability toilets, a staff kitchen, one large training room, 2 waiting areas, 3 counselling rooms, and full disabled access with a lift, to ensure facilities are accessible to all within the community. According to the Northern Ireland Youth Wellbeing Survey, 12.6% of children and young people in Northern Ireland suffer from their mental health, which is 25% higher than the rest of the UK.  The report also highlighted that 1 in 10 youths between the age of 11 -19 had engaged in self-harm and 1 in 8 had thought or attempted suicide.


As a result of the dire state of mental health within Northern Ireland, facilities such as MACP are essential to healing poor mental health within society.


To find out more about how MACP may support you or a family member visit                                    



Niamh-Anne McNally                     

Further information on the Youth Wellbeing Prevalence Survey 2020 - HSCB (


Mid Ulster counselling charity receives coronavirus support



A mental health charity in part of Northern Ireland facing the worst economic effects of coronavirus and a rising death toll has received a £10,000 grant. The Mid-Ulster Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (MACP) halted face-to-face counselling to limit the spread of infection but has seen an influx of new clients worried about catching the virus. Halifax Foundation for Northern Ireland funding will buy laptops, headsets and telephone equipment for video conferencing to help those needing online support.

MACP chairman Joe Coney said the organisation had been inundated by new clients young and old who are extremely anxious due to the virus. He added: "People are anticipating the worst."

The charity service is helping clients look at ways to keep safe and lower anxiety levels. It has bought new laptops, phones and other equipment to enable online counselling. Mr Coney said: "Without that money, there is no way we could have operated. We are taking new referrals daily, males and females and young people." He said there had been a number of people diagnosed with coronavirus in the area, including his own town of Coalisland in Co Tyrone. Mr Coney added: "For three or four people to have died with Covid around this area would be quite a high number but we are getting calls from all over Mid Ulster."

Mid Ulster may endure the worst short-term virus-related economic shock of any Northern Ireland region, research has suggested.

The Centre for Progressive Policy (CPP) applied an Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) scenario and said economic output could fall in Mid Ulster by 45%. The Halifax Foundation has awarded £387,854 to 66 charities in Northern Ireland to help their response to Covid-19. On the day lockdown was announced, March 23, the foundation moved immediately to provide emergency grants to support charities helping those most at risk.

They included those running food banks and delivering food parcels to those in need, domestic abuse support and online employability support for those who have lost their jobs. Executive director Brenda McMullan said: "We are truly humbled by the amazing efforts of our charity and community sectors during these very uncertain and unprecedented times. The foundation is working hard to award additional funding to those that need it most, and we are aware that time is of the essence." 




MACP was one of five chosen charities selected in Northern Ireland to be awarded £3.390 by the Institute of Directors Fund towards working with Mental Health. Our members Daniel Whitelaw and Janette Potts attended the celebration event on 28th Feb 2020


Suicide Awareness Concert in aid of MACP

Charity counselling service inundated with calls after Cookstown tragedy


A CHARITY providing trauma counselling has been inundated with calls from "shocked" teenagers caught up in the Cookstown hotel tragedy. The JMC Counselling and Training & The Mid-Ulster Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy service provided face-to-face support to scores of young people who witnessed the horrific events of the previous evening in which three teenagers were killed Distressed workers from the Greenvale Hotel also contacted the charity, which is staffed by a team of 30 people with offices in Coalisland, Co Tyrone.

Counsellor Michael O'Neill said it was impossible to estimate the number of telephone calls and social media messages they received as they had been "flat out", with extra staff coming in to work the public holiday. Parents of teenagers who attended the St Patrick's Day disco also sought advice.

GAA clubs including Dungannon and Tullysaran in Co Armagh contacted the counselling service to provide their premises as a 'drop in'. While we cannot go into the details of what we have been told, all the young people who approached us have been in complete shock," Mr O'Neill said.

"These were teenagers who were all going out to have a night's fun and are now dealing with grief and trauma." Mr O'Neill urged concerned parents to communicate with their children who had been affected. "Please don't let children be on their own - the most important thing is talking. I know it is impossible to keep young people off social media but try to limit what they are reading online," he added.

"Parents know their own kids but it is good to encourage them not to be afraid to speak about their experience and to seek the advice of counsellors and GPs if needs be. "We also know that staff members who were working at the hotel were badly affected and some got in touch with us yesterday - they need help too... If you have been affected, please don't suffer this alone, contact us as soon as possible."

The Mid-Ulster based counselling service can be contacted on 028 8774 6375.



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