Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Visible Women - Winners

I was excited and very pleased that the Women in Local Councils award this year went to the Visible Women event organised by North Down Borough Council and Ards Borough Council.

At the gala dinner held in Newcastle Co Down the winners were announced and it was with great pleasure, the Mayor, along with my colleagues and self went forward to receive the trophy.

We were all delighted and feel that although the award was received by us, the staff from both councils had a major role in the organisation and smooth running of the successful morning, our thanks must go to all who helped.

Successful Visible Women Event

Visible Women is a conference organised by two councillor colleagues and myself.

It was an idea developed several years ago and has since become on of the highlights of the year within both councils. It is an event to celebrate and motivate local women while at the same time each year we raise considerable amounts of money towards various charities.

This year, our speakers included Dr Janet Gray MBE winner of the World Disabled Water Skiing Championship in three disciplines. Kate Hoey MP Labour Minister from Northern Ireland, Grainia Long Director of the Chartered Institute of Housing in N I and Joanne Stewart of the Institute of Directors in Northern Ireland.

Over 250 women from all spheres of life attend, and such is the demand for tickets, we work on a waiting list.

Already we have started to think about this year’s conference to be held as usual in November and look forward to as successful event as the previous ones have been.

I must thank the staff who work so tirelessly to make such a success for everyone involved.

Bayburn Historical Trail

The Bayburn Historical Society unveiled two new panels marking out the route of the local Bayburn Trail.

The idea behind this initiative was to promote the history of Crawfordsburn and Helen’s Bay and is a 4 mile trial with 16 points of historical interest.

This was a project I have been involved with for a number of years by helping progress the scheme through North Down Borough Council. I was delighted, as the local councillor, that after a few delays the panels were funded and designed by the North Down Borough Council.

The panels will provide invaluable information for the many walkers who will gain an insight into our wonderful heritage.

Close it, Lock it, Check it.

As Chair of the local District Policing Partnership I was delighted to take part in the launch of a new domestic burglary initiative.

This involved the help of the local Bloomfield’s shopping Centre by using their trolleys. Attached to every shallow trolley was a specially designed panel, with the message ‘Motorists have you locked your Car’.

Every year the DPP undertakes work with the local community and domestic burglary is consistently highlighted as a concern. It is something which the DPP are committed to proactively tackling with the local police and as a result we sought to identify new methods of getting the message across to local residents. Hopefully our campaign will help prevent people becoming a victim of crime, whether it is in the home or from your car.

New Mental Health Facility Welcomed

I welcome the statement made by Minister McGimpsey on a £9million adolescent mental health inpatient facility at Beechcroft, on the Foster Green site in Belfast. This facility will provide much needed accommodation for adolescents between the ages of 13 – 18 with mental health problems; as well there will be accommodation for over night accommodations for parents.

For too long young people with mental health problems have been housed in wards with adults or the facilities available to them with regard to mental health have been a serious problem for, not just the health service, but to parents and relations of those in need of specialist care. As well, for too long those the mental health service have been neglected and under funded.

This welcome announcement will make a real and lasting difference to all within the mental health sphere. It is an example of investment in the health and social care services.

The accommodation will provide 18 en-suite single bedrooms, day rooms, dining rooms, quiet areas, therapy and educational facilities and outdoor recreation.

This new unit will make a very real and welcome difference for those young people using this service.

Why Smoke - it's a one way road?

I would urged smokers to take the first step towards kicking the habit on No Smoking Day 2010, taking place to day, Wednesday, March 10. Begin in a positive mood and tell yourself – I can give up smoking."

This year’s theme of ‘Break free - we can help’ offers a positive message to those thinking about taking a stand against this all too common addiction.

With approximately 2,300 people dying each year, smoking is the greatest cause of preventable illness and premature death in Northern Ireland. This is an issue that, unfortunately, will afflict many families.

While helping people to quit is vital, we also need to ensure that the young people within our community aren’t sucked into this dangerous habit. I often wonder do smokers not realize that when you are standing or sitting near them they is often a stale cigarette smoke smell lingers on their clothing and breath.

This goes far beyond expense, bad teeth and affecting your senses of smell and taste – there is a shocking array of medical implications to boot.

While a commonly known consequence of smoking is lung cancer, it also contributes to a frightening variety of other illnesses, including cancers of the stomach, cervix, kidney, and pancreas. Anyone who has watched and cared for a relation or friend die from any of the mentioned cancers would not wish the harrowing process on their worst enemy, so my question is – why smoke?

For those who still have no desire to quit for the sake of their own health, it might be worth considering that the World Health Organisation has estimated that passive smoking kills nearly 600,000 people each year across the globe.

While surveys have shown that the majority of smokers would like to give up, the addictive nature of nicotine can make it difficult. The key is to seek help, be it at your GP surgery, pharmacy or community centre.

Take the first step to day - it won't be easy but and this is a big BUT, you and you alone can make your health – and the health of those around you – top of your agenda.”