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Lurgan fun day this weekend to celebrate two years of ‘Just A Chat’ mental health group

The event kicks off this Sunday (April 28) at the Glenavon FC pitch with an U11 Football Tournament from 9am until 12:30pm

Members of Just A Chat getting their mental health qualfication

A Co. Armagh mental health charity is set to hold a community fun day in Lurgan this weekend to celebrate its second anniversary.

Just A Chat was set up by Craigavon man Conor Hegarty and his wife in 2022 to help raise awareness and support for mental health issues in the ABC Borough – and sometimes further afield.

The event also serves as a means to raise awareness around mental health issues and to encourage those struggling to seek help.

The event kicks off this Sunday (April 28) at the Glenavon FC pitch with an U11 Football Tournament from 9am until 12:30pm, which will be followed by the main fun day from 1pm to 3pm.

There’ll be a range of activities available for all the family including an exotic zoo, bouncy castles, food, raffles and football games.

They will also welcome special guests Black Paddy and Sam Madden, the football freestyler who will be doing all sorts of activities through the day.

The event is sponsored by McMillen Driver Training, Friendly Faces, J300 Nutrition and DMD Music School, with the pitch kindly granted by Glenavon FC.

Speaking to Armagh I, Conor explained: “Myself and my wife set the charity up two years ago and the aim is to help people with their mental health and raise awareness of the support that’s out there.

“We run regular workshops for all ages, groups and schools to build confidence and show people how to talk to people if they’re suffering and how to see the signs.”

The charity also runs its own men’s football team – Just A Chat FC – which boasts 56 members and is continuously growing.  It acts as a ‘gateway’ to mental health support, getting like-minded people out for a bit of exercise.

“It’s grown into a family support system where all the guys help each other,” Conor said. “The journey some of the guys have come on is fantastic and it’s really helped them.”

Just last week, eight of the guys from the team qualified as mental health first-aiders through Just A Chat.

A women’s wellness group has also been launched which is going from strength to strength, with the aim of identifying and addressing mental health needs.

For Conor, the purpose of the fun day event is two-fold – to celebrate the second anniversary, all while promoting awareness of mental health and signposting to services.

He said: “As much as it is a fun day, we want more people to know we are there and more people to see what we are.

“The reason why we’re called Just A Chat is because when people see that name, they know exactly what we’re about. It’s about talking and getting that message out there.

“We’re trying to promote what we do as well as have a great day. If this event helps one person, which I know it will, It’ll have been a fantastic, worthwhile cause.”

On the formation of Just A Chat two years ago, Conor explained: “We found a young person in distress and he didn’t know what to do or where to go and he though the only way out was suicide. I have a ten-year-old and we both have a soon-to-be two-year-old so we didn’t want our kids growing up and not knowing what to do.

“A lot of this country only seek help when it’s crisis point, whereas we’re trying to get there early and make sure that everybody has the tools to be a little bit prepared.

“We regularly get people coming to us, especially through the football team and the biggest problem in our community is men committing suicide.

“We have a lot of people in the club that have came from suicide or mental health issue and they’re all there to help each other.”

Visit Just A Chat’s Facebook page to find out more information about their work.

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