HealthIT education

Social and Health Education Project for North Tipp

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SHEP – the Social and Health Education Project – is extending an exciting suite of free online courses for participants in North Tipperary this month.

Supported by Healthy Ireland, SHEP is being rolled out locally with partners including the Nenagh-based Silver Arch Family Resource Centre, North Tipperary Development Company (NTDC), Mid-West Regional Drugs & Alcohol Forum, and Tipperary ETB. SHEP is a HSE-funded community and voluntary sector training and development organisation, working also in Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Clare.

The programme works primarily in the area of adult community education with a particular emphasis on experiential group work for the promotion of health and well-being.

SHEP has pioneered the development of experiential learning in group-work settings for over 40 years. Since 2010, SHEP courses have been offered to participants in Limerick. But, with many of them attending from further afield in the Mid-West, including North Tipperary, SHEP is now expanding its offering to meet local demand and plans to roll out two online courses in the coming weeks – 1) Seasons for Growth, and 2) Men’s Wellbeing.

No special prior qualifications are needed and people from all backgrounds can participate. An openness to change, a willingness to explore ideas and a willingness to engage in discussion will help you to get the maximum benefits from the course. There will be no course fee for participants.

A SHEP course will take your specific needs into account. You will feel heard when you want to speak out.

It will be a place where you can gain a sense of belonging and safety in a small group. Respect will be shown to you, regardless of your situation or opinion.

The programme gives priority to valuing and affirming the life experiences and worth of each person in the groups that are organised through the project. Participants are enabled to explore their life experiences with others and to grow in the way that is unique and of importance for them.

Loss and grief are issues that affect all of us at some stage in our lives. Learning to deal with these issues is central to personal well-being and happiness.

There are many different losses that occur in one’s lifetime; the one that people automatically think of when grief is mentioned is death, but there are many others such as illness, disability, adoption, abuse, workplace change, unemployment, cultural dislocation, marriage separation and divorce.

Experiences such as these bring about change, both for individuals and the family as a whole. A course like this provides adults with the opportunity to examine how loss and grief have impacted on their lives and can also provide knowledge, skills and attitudes to understand and manage their grief experiences.

Key beliefs that underpin the Seasons for Growth programme are:

• That loss and grief are a normal and valuable part of life;

• That many different losses occur in one’s lifetime;

• That people need to be provided with an opportunity to look at how loss and grief have impacted on their lives;

• That we learn through knowledge, skills and attitudes to understand and manage our grief experiences

• The key to supporting others (e.g. family members) is to be ‘at home’ with one’s own loss experiences;

• Learning about loss and grief can, in itself, be quite liberating;

• That as adults we best learn through experience;

• That participating in a group with other caring people can normalise one’s own experiences;

• That sharing of stories allows us to connect with one another in ways that build understanding and decrease isolation.

In recent times in Ireland much more attention is being given to mental health in the community. Men in particular are becoming more aware of how best to look after themselves, having in the past been reluctant to discuss these types of issues. This relates to the very real pressure on men to meet the struggles of their daily lives. With the current focus of mental health issues, we are beginning to see more places where men can talk more openly about the different areas of their health, and access support related to their physical, mental and emotional health. This shift in attitudes and attention, has been life changing and life saving for many. This particular course is such a space, that will enable men to open up channels of communication about their health and wellbeing needs, about the issues affecting their lives, in a safe, friendly and enjoyable atmosphere. This course is open to men of all different age groups and backgrounds.

These courses will consist of weekly sessions online, over a period of 9 weeks. There are usually up to 14 participants in a group. All SHEP Community Courses are delivered by the Project’s registered Community Tutors, who have trained with SHEP in their own personal development and growth. SHEP Tutors are fully trained to deliver the courses they provide. They are also supervised and supported in their work by senior training professionals, as well as by external supervisors.

For more information, contact one of the partner agencies: North Tipperary Development Company at 087-7180382 or via their website www.ntdc.ie or Silver Arch Family Resource Centre via email info@silverarchfrc.ie or phone 087-7489490. See also the SHEP website, www.socialandhealth.com

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