ONE of Tyrone’s most recognisable buildings was illuminated in red last week to mark the passage of a decade since Action For Children opened its Omagh Family Support Hub.
In recognition of the anniversary the Strule Arts Centre shone red for all to see on Thursday, focusing attention on the invaluable work that this service has done over the last ten years to better the lives of local families. And, in addition to the illumination of the arts centre’s stony facade, an anniversary party was thrown within its walls.
The Tyrone Herald attended the day of celebrations to speak with some local people whose lives have been uplifted by the charity, and to hear from some staff who work within and alongside the local Action For Children team.
“I remember the ‘70s very well,” explained an older gentleman. “I feel like we are back there nowadays, but without the sense of community that helped people scrape by back then.
“I speak with people who work on the ground with the Hub and the organisations that support them, and they tell me stories of bare cupboards, empty fridges and penniless purses.
“As a society, we are in a bad place at the minute.
“For that reason, it is hard to overstate the value of the Hub.”
Since 2013, the Omagh Family Support Hub has helped 2,362 children and young people. As well, some 3,240 parents access support.
The Hub is a signposting service, which means they are often the first point of contact for struggling families who go in search of help.
When a person reaches out to the Hub, staff will speak with them, get a gauge of the help they require, and make it their mission to get the family the support they need.
On Thursday, Action for Children and partner organisations reflected on a decade-worth of hard and effective work.
Tina, a parent from Omagh, said that she received support from the Hub while facing difficulties during a family breakdown.
“Action For Children provided us with emotional care and support which we really needed at the time,” said Tina.
“We have had three amazing support workers who have offered invaluable support to both myself and my daughter. They were a friendly ear that I could talk to, and their advice and the care they provided for us really did make a huge difference to our lives.”
With an irrepressible smile, Karen Duffy, co-ordinator at Action for Children Omagh Family Support Hub, explained the transformative impact that the Hub has had in the area.
“This type of support really is crucial in an area where access to services often requires extensive travel or negotiation of other barriers,” she said.
“Many families have had their lives turned around after receiving local support, and that is thanks to the wonderful connections we have built over the last ten years within the community, voluntary and statutory sectors.
“Our ambition has been to support children, young people and their families’ health and well-being at the earliest stage possible, to try and avert the need for statutory and crisis-based services, which are expensive and difficult to access.”
Karen explained that the service supports families by listening to their situations and signposting them to the support that best fulfils their needs.
“There are fantastic services being delivered by so many wonderful professionals who bring so much to their work and do so continuously, always working with the best interests of the families they work with at heart,” she added.
Standing around the hall, chatting beneath bunches of red balloons and over cuts of cake, dozens of people thanked, congratulated and broke bread with one another, in an atmosphere of pride and togetherness.
Barry McElduff, the chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, gave his thanks to the Hub.
“I would like to commend Action for Children and the various Hub partners for the work they do to help to improve the health and well-being of our residents who require important intervention,” he said.
“We are a healthier, happier place for the difference they make.”
If you’re searching for emotional or practical support in your area, reach out to the Action for Children Omagh Family Support Hub today on 028 8225 9495.
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