The People’s Accelerator

Jill Huston (left) Service Operations Lead and Leigh Carey, Executive Director of Hummingbird.
Jill Huston (left) Service Operations Lead and Leigh Carey, Executive Director of Hummingbird.

A pioneering social enterprise in Portstewart is helping to tackle Northern Ireland’s mental

health crisis by harnessing the experience of those who have lived through mental health issues themselves.

The Hummingbird Project NI works with individuals and groups within the community, focusing on prevention, early intervention and postvention strategies to improve emotional wellbeing and promote better mental health for all.

Clients are referred to the project through GPs and Well-Being Hubs, through partnership organisations such as Men’s Sheds and Groundwork NI and the project is looking forward to

launching corporate training to increase emotional resilience in the workplace later in 2019.

This year also sees the Hummingbird Project NI working with PwC in an innovative new project addressing suicide in North and West Belfast, where young people are undertaking training in resilience to become mental health peer champions.

Now employing three staff and five volunteers who have all experienced mental ill-health, the

Hummingbird Project received some early stage assistance from The People’s Accelerator Programme, a free programme focused on developing ideas for social change and innovation in communities across Northern Ireland.

Chief Executive Leigh Carey said: “The Accelerator Programme really taught us to take an aerial view of the big picture, from asking deep questions about why we do what we do, to taking our first steps into payroll.

“We were surrounded by people who had the desire to make good changes in their communities and who had the same doubts and concerns as us. We all grew together and found inspiration to get involved with a sector that is the fastest growing part of the economy. It’s amazing what you can achieve with a good idea and a bit of guidance.”