After raising a staggering £10k on their first day of online fundraising, the teams at East Belfast based Parr Group and Parr Facilities Management Limited raised their fundraising goal to £18k and on Friday 18th December ‘blew it out of the water’ as the team marked a £22,290 fundraising milestone with a frigid sea splash in support of leading Northern Ireland mental health charities AWARE and Tackling Awareness of Mental Health Issues (TAMHI).
Marking the festive season and recognising the mental health challenges which present themselves at this time of year, the Parr FM and Parr Group teams made the decision to raise funds on behalf of these worthy charities following a challenging 2020 which has seen an increased number of Northern Ireland residents dealing with mental health challenges exacerbated by stresses by health, anxiety, employment, finances, and family life.
Speaking on the initiative being spearheaded by the teams at Parr Group and Parr FM Stephen Parr, Managing Director, said, “2020 was such a challenging year for everyone. With these extra stresses added on top of the already dire mental health crisis we face in Northern Ireland, we felt that it was more important than ever to encourage a conversation around mental health and support these two local charities who work around the clock to provide support, signpost individuals struggling with mental health crises to key services and help to break the stigma around discussing mental health issues.”
Working alongside Ciaran May of Natural Resilience Workshops and Retreats, the Parr teams prepped for their dip in the Irish Sea by incorporating breathwork, positive mindset and visualisation to withstand over 10 minutes in the chilling waters. Joining the swimmers on the day were well-known faces, former Ulster and Ireland rugby player Paddy Wallace, AWARE ambassador and radio presenter Cate Conway, and owner of Suitor Brothers Clothiers and Custom Tailors and TAMHI ambassador Chris Suitor.
“Ciaran’s focus on using the outdoors and nature as a tool for overcoming mental health challenges offers an accessible way for us all to tap back into our natural instincts and unplug from the business of everyday life,” added Stephen Parr. “We are thankful to him for giving us tools to approach a successful sea swim and also overcome stress, tension and anxiety in our everyday lives.”
Commenting on the support from Parr Group and Parr FM, Lisa Abell-Farrelly, Corporate Relationship Officer at AWARE said, “We are delighted to be one of the beneficiaries of Parr Group and Parr FM Charity Sea Splash, a fantastic challenge and a great way to raise awareness of mental health, particularly after a difficult year! All funds donated to AWARE will go towards the development and expansion of our services to support those affected by depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder in Northern Ireland. Thank you to all involved!”
“The Sea Swim was absolutely amazing. The whole team was buzzing and we felt revived after pushing our limits. The money raised will go a long way to saving lives. What TAMHI aims to do is shape and save lives by promoting positive mental health within all sorts of youth clubs. Our youth members are the next set of leaders for years to come, and this money will help save lives and drive the young people we have on board forward. We cannot thank the Parr teams enough and are glad that this is the start of an amazing relationship,” added Mick Meehan, Youth Facilitator, TAMHI.
Tackling Awareness of Mental Health Issues (TAMHI) is a North Belfast-based mental health charity which works with sports clubs, schools, and youth groups to make mental health fun and engaging. AWARE is the depression charity for Northern Ireland and has established a network of 23 support groups in rural and urban areas across the country which address depression and bipolar disorder as well as carers for people with the illness. AWARE, the depression charity for Northern Ireland, experienced a 46% increase in demand for its support services via WhatsApp, Zoom and face-to-face between March and September 2020. During the same period, the number of people reached by AWARE’s services via Facebook rose by 306% and on Twitter by 119% while the traffic to their website also increased by nearly a fifth when compared to the same period last year. Their support group attendance is up 46% from the same period last year, demonstrating both an increase in need for mental health support and an expansion of AWARE’s services.