Support group to help security force members

Pictured at the launch are, from left, William Irwin MLA, Jim Nicholson MEP, Shirley Agnew, project manager, Sam Wilson, group chairman, Cllr Sam Nicholson, Cllr Jim Speers, Danny Kennedy MLA and Cllr Gareth Wilson.  INPT0815-422
Pictured at the launch are, from left, William Irwin MLA, Jim Nicholson MEP, Shirley Agnew, project manager, Sam Wilson, group chairman, Cllr Sam Nicholson, Cllr Jim Speers, Danny Kennedy MLA and Cllr Gareth Wilson. INPT0815-422

A community group aimed at supporting past and present members of the security forces and their families who suffered during The Troubles has opened in Richhill.

The ‘Out of the Shadows’ group will be based in Main Street, Richhill.

It will be open Monday to Friday from 9am-4pm and will provide a wide range of services including a drop-in facility for those wishing to meet others or simply enjoy a chat and a cuppa.

The group will offer welfare advice as well as an outreach service to anyone unable to travel due to mobility problems or mental health issues.

A variety of activities will include iPad classes, pottery and complementary therapies, plus walking classes.

The need for such a facility was identified by Armagh’s NI Phoenix group which closed in September due to a reduction in funding.

Shirley Agnew, project manager with Out of the Shadows, said, “We only opened our doors on January 5 yet our membership is growing daily and we imagine this will grow and develop further as people get to know that we are here.

“The name, Out of the Shadows, was poignant as a lot of our members feel isolated and that their sacrifices were in many cases forgotten or ignored so we hope to help individuals regain self-esteem.”

The group lobbied for funding and William Irwin MLA was instrumental. Mr Irwin, who officially opened the facility, said the help it offers “will make a real and important difference”.

The group is funded by Co-operation Ireland, the Community Relations Council and Lloyds TSB Foundation.

Shirley said future plans include a men’s shed and a hen’s shed as well as a community garden.

Contact 3887 9679 or email outoftheshadows38@hotmail.co.uk.