Investment in Portadown Wellness Center “Will Empower People with Mental Health Problems”

Business Editor Gary McDonald

November 17, 2021 1:00 AM

BANBRIDGE businessman who has spoken openly and publicly about being affected by the distressing symptoms of mental illness has invested six figures in the creation of a new wellness center and center gardening and teaching facility adjacent to Portadown.

Alan McDowell (59) says facilities provide essential support and empowerment for men and women who may recover from mental illness, addiction, physical illness, loneliness or loneliness. isolation.

And it does so holistically by offering a variety of services that include practical and therapeutic activities, social events, listening spaces and wellness conferences and presentations.

The center at 31-37 Armagh Road in Portadown (across from McCrums Motorcycles) currently offers – or is actively planning – courses in pottery and ceramics, carpentry, woodcarving, crafts, tailoring and design. , yoga and exercise, horticulture and gardening. , and restoration of furniture and upholstery.

Alan said: “I have always wanted to give back, and if this center helps even a man or a woman to regain well-being, that alone will have been worth the time and the investment.

And he admits, “I’m living proof that with the right support and help, anyone can recover from mental illness and lead happier, healthier lives in the future.

The number of lives lost to suicide in Northern Ireland is skyrocketing to surprising levels, and according to a recent research paper for the Stormont Assembly, around 70 percent of those who die by suicide in the north are not known mental health services, which makes it particularly difficult for agencies to step in to offer help.

“Thanks to an effective intervention, I am doing well again. But I want to use my own personal experience and my recovery process to help others regain well-being, because with the right help and support anyone can recover from this debilitating disease, ”he said. he adds.

“The most effective way to get back to lasting well-being is to tackle the issues that triggered the disease with a professional and experienced counselor.

“But on top of that, I believe that in order to break through the cyclical negative thinking that is often associated with poor mental health, we need to participate in an enjoyable, hands-on activity that will create a distraction, and that’s what this project in Portadown is about. “

Alan has previously held managerial positions in a number of world-renowned horticultural companies including Westland Garden Health and Bulrush Horticulture in Northern Ireland, and his personal financial investment in the Portadown site draws on his 40 years of experience. in this sector.

“The vision of our Empower Gardening & Educational Center teaching is to provide an opportunity for young people facing mental health issues or unemployment to acquire a multitude of new skills and talents.

“It will help increase their self-esteem, self-confidence and self-confidence to enable them to move into a new career and / or access paid employment in a career they are passionate about.

“It is important to note that we have developed a business that will generate income for the nearby Portadown Wellness Center, which currently depends on funding from various organizations to operate.

“And it is the firm vision of our board of directors – which has many years of experience in management and business development – that the two centers will become self-funded within two to three years and will not have more to depend on public funding. “

Meanwhile, the center hosts a community and family craft Christmas market over the next four Saturdays (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.).

Each week, around 20 innovative artisans and talented small businesses will sell a range of unique party favors and products, ranging from handmade candles, jewelry, hand knitted and crocheted items, to floral table decorations. , works of art and paintings and drawings by local artists.

There will also be an animal farm under an awning at the back of the Empower Garden Center where kids can pet real donkeys, goats, lambs and other animals.

Alan adds: “We are opening the market next Saturday, which also happens to be International Suicide Survivors Day, an event where suicide survivors come together to find connection, understanding and hope through their shared experience.

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