Interview with Lynsey Poole from Larne Area Community Support Group
Tell us a bit about yourself and/or your organisation.
Hello, really pleased to have joined this fantastic community network!
I’m Lynsey, an archaeologist by trade, mum of four wonderful children and a passionate volunteer within the Larne area. I am founder of the Larne Area Community Support Group and Community Health and Well-being Champion with Extern-Carrick/Larne.
During the March 2020 lockdown, at the beginning of the pandemic I created a small Facebook group as a place for friends and family to connect, interact and champion each other through difficult times. In one short week the group had grown to over 4,000 members.
The group is a social media hub for signposting and support, provides a sense of connection, is a safe place for others to interact and communicate and find the information they need. The group has been involved in several projects and collaborations over the past 11 months.
I’m passionate about positive change and empowering people, supporting others and giving them the tools to flourish. I am a huge advocate for mental health. I am very focused on reducing problems such as food poverty.
How well have you/your organisation adapted to the pandemic?
Larne area community support group grew from the pandemic and the associated need for support and connection. Originally, we began creating lists and guidance for local shops and services, their opening times, telephone numbers and accessibility. From this, we have been able to help Extern in their creation of an interactive Community Resource Guide which is soon to be launched.
As we started as an online support forum, we haven’t been impacted very much by restrictions in terms of what we can do and the support offered. While a lot of our support is signposting support or online support, there have been some physical projects such as #WEcare mental health mood boosting packs with Extern which have been delivered within the Larne area to boost the mood of those affected by lockdown life and the pandemic and helped to create some useful Factsheets to include in Externs Mental Health Toolkits.
How well have people/organisations in your area collaborated throughout the pandemic?
Incredibly! The community really pulled together during the pandemic to support one another. It was incredible to see and there are so many who volunteered their time to support others. The Larne community really pulled together to support one another.
In terms of collaboration the group has been able to partner with Extern for several projects including a Community Fridge for the Larne area. We also more recently helped to create some Christmas Breakfast Bundles for families in need with Antrim Coast Vineyard, Womens Aid, Surestart and Extern.
What key needs are becoming apparent and/or are likely to arise this year?
Isolation and loneliness is an absolutely huge issue right now more so than ever. In terms of connection and providing a sense of connection this can be difficult to manage. Not everyone has the same accessibility and as most things are online, I love seeing groups that provide befriending calls, doorstep packs delivered or even letters and postcards sent to others to combat loneliness at this time.
ASK: What do you need, right now, that the members of Community Network NI and/or the wider community may be able to help you with?
Last year through Extern we secured funding for a fantastic Community Fridge Project, to combat food surplus going to waste by directing it via a community fridge to those who needed it. At present, we have had three locations agreed but have been unable to launch the project due to various unfortunate setbacks as a direct result of the pandemic and restrictions.
I am seeking an interim or temporary location in which to launch the project until we can move to our Main Street building and would love to be able to find an organisation or business who would be willing to help with this.