Firefighters open doors to a healthy mind in Lurgan

Fire crew from Dungannon attended the crash
Fire crew from Dungannon attended the crash

Lurgan Fire Station will be opening their doors on Tuesday for a ‘Health Body, Health Mind’ initiative.

On Tuesday night 7-9pm, firefighters will be teaming up with two local charities Northern Ireland Chest Heart plus Stroke and MindWise, on the initiative to raise awareness of the importance of keeping both your mental and physical health in good shape.

In Lurgan the information evening on Tuesday night will be free for the public to attend.

As well as firefighters, representatives of MindWise and Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke will be in attendance to provide information and discuss any issues people may have.

There will be a number of awareness raising events are planned for the year ahead, starting with a Station to Station Cycle which will stop at all 68 Fire Stations in Northern Ireland.

The Station2Station Challenge starts on Monday May 8, marking the start of Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 (8-14 May).

Both charities and NIFRS have signed a Partnership Agreement, as part of the NIFRS Health & Well-Being plan, to work together to promote mental and physical well-being amongst NIFRS staff and the wider community.

Group Commander, Keith Black, Occupational Health and Well-Being, NIFRS said: “As Firefighters, we know the importance of maintaining physical fitness throughout our careers. What is equally important, however, is our mental fitness, and through this new initiative we hope to remove some of the fear people may have about talking about their mental health, both amongst our own staff and the in wider public.”

The Station2Station Cycle was the brainchild of firefighter, Noel McKee, who is also a trained counsellor. Noel and three other firefighters will cycle to every fire station and, together with the charity partners, deliver a talk at too secondary schools each day of the 10 day cycle. Information Nights will also be held at six fire stations which are free for the public to attend.

Declan Cunnane, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke said: “We are delighted to be working alongside NIFRS. 40% of adult deaths in Northern Ireland are from chest, heart or stroke illnesses. Living with a long term health condition is not easy, physically, mentally and emotionally, for the individual or their family. That is why it is so important to increase people’s knowledge about how they can keep healthy and decrease their risk of developing these illnesses. On a personal note, I am a keen cyclist myself and hope to join Noel and his team for part of the cycle.”

Edward Gorringe, Chief Executive, MindWise, said: “We are excited to be a part of the Healthy Body Healthy Mind project and are encouraged to see a large organisation such as NIFRS make mental health a priority.

“Physical health and mental health are intrinsically linked. Poor physical health can lead to an increased risk of developing mental health problems.

“Similarly, poor mental health can negatively impact on physical health, leading to an increased risk of some conditions.

“We are looking forward to working with both organisations to raise awareness and promote mental and physical health within NIFRS and also the general public.”

A number of other awareness raising events are planned as part of the Healthy Body, Healthy Mind initiative, which will see NIFRS staff challenging themselves physically and mentally as they highlight the importance of mental and physical fitness. Any money raised will be split evenly between MindWise and Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke to continue to fund their vital services.

Donations for the Station2Station Cycle Challenge can be made through Firefighter Noel McKee’s Just Giving Page - or by Texting RED to 70660 to donate £3*.

*Texts cost £3 plus network charge. NICHS & MindWise receive 95% of your donation.

Information Evenings will be held at the following Fire Stations. These events are free for the public to attend. Representatives from NIFRS, MindWise and Northern Ireland Chest Heart & Stroke will be in attendance to provide information and discuss any issues people may have.

Monday 8 May: Newry Fire Station. 7pm-9pm

Tuesday 9 May: Lurgan Fire Station. 7pm-9pm

Wednesday 10 May: Belleek Fire Station: 7pm-9pm

Thursday 11 May: Omagh Fire Station. 7pm-9pm

Monday 15 May: Dungannon Fire Station. 7pm-9pm

Tuesday 16 May: Rathlin Island – Richard Branson Centre. 7pm-9pm