The family of young Co Antrim mother Lisa McAlister, who died tragically by suicide two years ago, have donated £10,000 to leading local mental health charity Extern in her memory.
The generous funding will be used to provide new supports to tackle suicide and poor mental health among people living in the Cushendall and wider Glens area.
These include a number of awareness-raising events to introduce the community to new therapeutic services, as well as developing volunteer Community Champions in the area, who will draw on their local knowledge, skills and life experiences to promote health and wellbeing.
Mother-of-two Lisa, who died in 2020, had been passionate about supporting the work of mental health charities, and her family hope that this latest donation in her name will enable others to access potentially life-saving services in isolated or rural communities.
A recent survey by The Samaritans has found that people living in rural areas in Northern Ireland (47%) are less likely than those in urban areas (70%) to reach out for support or talk to someone if they are struggling with their mental health.
Lisa’s brother Mark, said: “The Glens area has been cut off from vital mental health services for far too long. Lisa set out to change this and despite falling victim to poor mental health, today is a huge step forward in achieving her goal. We hope that with the help of Extern, Lisa's legacy will have a lasting impact in the Glens of Antrim.”
Extern Fundraising Manager Grace O’Neill said: “We are very grateful and humbled to receive such a generous donation from the McAlister family. The money we have received will allow us to extend our mental health supports into their community and make a real difference to the lives of others who may be facing challenges at this time.
“Thank you so much to everyone who helped to raise these funds for the family’s campaign. We look forward to using these to help us in our work to transform lives for the better.”
Billy Murphy, Extern’s Interim Director of Services for Northern Ireland, said: “As one of the leading mental health charities across Northern Ireland, we in Extern know only too well the profound impact which poor mental health and suicide can have on families and communities. The courage and resolve which the McAlister family have shown following the tragic loss of Lisa has been inspirational, and their incredible donation will help us to make a real difference to others who may be facing such challenges in their lives.”