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Heritage 4 Health Programme

Heritage 4 Health Programme

We were delighted to join with The Fitzone Foundation, a local health & wellness centre based in Craigavon, to assist them with the delivery of ‘Heritage 4 Health’: a pilot health and wellbeing programme, funded by the NI Environment Link, which combines positive physical and mental health messages with heritage site visits. The programme took place  between June 2023 and March 2024, with 20 participants recruited by an open call.

The programme started off with 4 sessions in June. To kick things off the group were treated to a tour of Brownlow House.  This was followed in the second week by a trip to the Norman Emerson Group’s sand extraction business on the shores of Lough Neagh, where George Emerson and Conor Jordan provided an insight into the history of sand extraction on Lough Neagh as well as a tour of their operation.  In the third week local guides Jim Conway and Paul May provided a tour of Oxford Island nature reserve, covering the history of the site and tree folklore. Then for the fourth week we headed to Armagh City for a Tour of the Hill including the St. Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, and The Robinson Library.

The programme recommenced in October after the summer break. with a buttermaking session and tour of the Barn Museum at Tannaghmore Gardens. Next we went to the Kinnego Bushcraft Centre to take part in a foraging walk and bushcraft session. The following week we were then treated to a guided tree trail tour of Lurgan Park by Pascal Downing. In our eighth session we had a Craigavon memories reminiscence workshop, with an introduction to archaeology workshop facilitated by Queens University Belfast archaeologist Ryan Montgomery on 15 November. The year was concluded with a visit and tour of the Almac complex on Tuesday 21 November.

The remaining sessions were held between January and March 2024 and included two local history talks and reminiscence session on the local area; a talk by Ulster Wildlife on birdlife and a visit to Bushmills Distillery to conclude the project. The programme proved very successful with great feedback received from all participants. We enjoyed working with a health and wellbeing partner, which was something new for us and changed our perspective on the potential audiences and role for heritage-based activities. The length of the programme meant we had to be creative in our thinking regarding places to visit and topics to cover – it has led us to develop new relationships with places/businesses/people whom we previously had no relationship.

You can listen to a podcast about the ‘Heritage 4 Health’ project by clicking the below link: 

‘Heritage 4 Health’ is funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and delivered in partnership with Northern Ireland Environment Linkand the Verve Healthy Living Centre Alliance – to promote health and wellbeing through engagement with environmental heritage.