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Crisis Café in Newry hosted a 'Seeing is Believing' event yesterday, 2 August at their Edward Street premises where they invited the Community Foundation to check out the organisation's facilities and to listen to some of the young people benefiting from the initiative.

Grainne Graham, Crisis Café; Kirsty McMullen, Community Foundation NI; Michael Hughes, Community Foundation NI; Louise Quinn, Crisis Cafe and Brenda Kent, BMKent Consulting. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

The Crisis Café Social Enterprise allows young people to access facilities that help safeguard their mental health while interacting with people their own age.

Explaining how the event came about Louise Quinn, Crisis Café said "The Crisis Café received funding from the Community Foundation. They were distributing funding from Comic Relief and New Needs and today we hosted a Seeing is Believing event and they came along and heard at first hand the experiences of young people on the benefits of the Crisis Café and the difference it has made in their lives and to young people in Newry."

Genuine Goodness

Speaking after their visit Michael Hughes, Head of Building Sustainable Communities at The Community Foundation for NI said "The Community Foundation and Comic Relief feel privileged to have been able to invest in Crisis Cafe, helping them, to support young people who in turn support each other with their mental health. What we experienced today was powerful and thought provoking, demonstrating the passion, skills and genuine goodness of young people in creating a more caring, safer and inclusive community in the Newry area.

Crisis Cafe must be commended for giving young people these opportunities in a space where they know that there are no judgements, just possibilities."

Young users of Crisis Café pictured during the Community Foundation visit. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Louise adds "We got the Comic Relief funding under digital poverty. It was looking at young people who didn't have access to mobile phones or laptops, nothing to do their homework on, or connect with friends. So not having a mobile phone was impacting on young peoples mental health because they weren't able to stay connected. Young people's lives is online and social media, so really we were creating a space for them where they could come in and use the laptops and do their homework or print things off or use the internet if they didn't have that at home, but while they came through the door to do that they could also access one to one mental health support as well."

"When there's digital poverty, there's going to be poor mental health, they're interlinked." Louise explains.

The funding supported the Connect Friendship Café and Digi Space and enabled risis Café to buy digital cameras through which they completed a photo art programme learning to use the cameras and portraying mental health through the lens.

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