27 Nov 2023
The Murlough Fund, established by John and Fiona McCowan, have donated an award of £5,000 between two local groups with the aim of breaking down loneliness and isolation.
The Northern Ireland Rural Women’s and Cushendun & District Development Association will both run programmes for older people, including art and craft workshops, dancing, mindfulness, gardening and yoga.
Speaking ahead of Giving Tuesday, John McCowan said:
“Both myself and Fiona originally come from Northern Ireland. We were fortunate enough over our careers to be involved in fundraising activities and supporting charitable organisation and causes.
“We established the Murlough Foundation with the principle aims of addressing issues around access to, and support of, those in education, and to address issues regarding loneliness and isolation.
“We were keen to fund a couple of initiatives this year recognising that the current economic environment has made things even more difficult for the charitable sector and those they support. The applications for funding were so worthy across the board. It was really difficult to just choose just the two.
“Hopefully by supporting these initiatives we will be able to engage and help some of those most in need of engagement with others.”
Orla Black, Grants Director at the Community Foundation said:
“Through partnering and supporting the Murlough Foundation, we at the Community Foundation were able to help target specific programmes and groups working to address loneliness.
“As we approach Christmas this is especially poignant given that the cost-of-living crisis has most certainly increased levels of isolation and loneliness, particularly amongst our older people.”
Louise Coyle, Director of the Northern Ireland Rural Women’s Network added:
“The Northern Ireland Rural Women’s Network will offer older women in rural areas the opportunity to participate in activities that will help them to connect with other people who may also be experiencing feelings of isolation and loneliness.
“For many, it is the first steps of coming together that are the hardest. We would encourage anyone to make that step with us and come along to a very welcoming and open environment.
“This funding, which we are delighted to receive, will allow us to offer isolated women the opportunity to participate in our programmes in order to build their confidence and bring people together.”
Anne Godfrey, Secretary of the Cushendun & District Development Association, spoke on how their Set Dancing classes will be used to bring people together across the Cushendun area:
“Cushendun is a community which places value on keeping traditional cultural activities alive. Part of the traditional cultural life of Cushendun and District has been, over generations, traditional music and dance. In particular, Set Dancing, which took place in houses in the area and was seen as an important part of the local tradition, which kept going until roughly the 1950.
“Set dancing, by its nature, encourages people to get to know and have fun with people they may not know at all or only slightly. Again, by its nature it encourages cross- generational mixing.
“As well as improving the physical and mental health of those who attend, an on-going set dancing class in the village, which is open to all, will enhance local connections, which are invaluable in a small village and rural area like ours.”