CALMS celebrates 25 years of helping people manage stress

CALMS Northland Road staff, Martha Doninguez, Complementary Therapist, on the left, Jessica Ling, Admin Officer, Joanne Herron, Counsellor,  Elaine Porteous, Project Manager, Eoghan Ball, PWP, Arleen Dunn, Complementary Therapy Co-ordinator, Deirdre Foy, PWP, and Katrina Rodgers, Counselling Co-ordinator.  DER4619GS - 026
CALMS Northland Road staff, Martha Doninguez, Complementary Therapist, on the left, Jessica Ling, Admin Officer, Joanne Herron, Counsellor, Elaine Porteous, Project Manager, Eoghan Ball, PWP, Arleen Dunn, Complementary Therapy Co-ordinator, Deirdre Foy, PWP, and Katrina Rodgers, Counselling Co-ordinator. DER4619GS - 026

In the last 25 years CALMS has helped thousands of people who are struggling to deal with stress and stress-related illnesses as a result of the Troubles.

The charity was set up in 1994 due to community demand following a public meeting in the Guildhall.

Elaine Porteous, Project Manager, pictured in the CALMS Northland Road office. DER4619GS - 028

Elaine Porteous, Project Manager, pictured in the CALMS Northland Road office. DER4619GS - 028

CALMS was the first local stress management centre and it focuses solely on the area of stress for victims and survivors of the Troubles and individuals presenting with stress generally.

It is cross-community in spirit and make up. Over the years, CALMS (Community Action for Locally Managing Stress) has grown and developed and as it moves towards its third decade, CALMS is now based in larger premises in the Northland Road.

It offers a range of programmes and services that include counselling, a psychological well being service and cognitive behavioural therapy.

CALMS also offer complementary therapies, creative and physical activities and welfare support.

Eoghan Ball pictured during a counselling consultation with a client at CALMS on the Northland Road. DER4619GS - 027

Eoghan Ball pictured during a counselling consultation with a client at CALMS on the Northland Road. DER4619GS - 027

Each year over 500 people avail of the counselling services and almost 200 visit CALMS for complementary therapies.

There are also 480 welfare rights support sessions held on an annual basis and all the services are free.

As part of the holistic approach of CALMS, personal development programmes including yoga, Tai Chi, art and pottery are available.

CALMS also have a choir and runs social therapy outings four times a year.

Project Manager Elaine Porteous has been involved with CALMS since its early days and she said the organisation is now seeing a lot of ‘transgenerational trauma’.

“We are seeing now a lot of young people who are experiencing transgenerational trauma. Even though a lot of these young people may not have witnessed something, their family may have been affected by the Troubles or there may have been an absence of a parent.

“We are seeing a particularly high level of young men presenting.”

Elaine, who has a ‘real passion’ for the organisation, said there is still a need for it.

“We are still seeing the fall out from the Conflict and we will be here for as long as there is a need.

“Stress is different for everyone. An anniversary can stir something in a person and all this talk of pensions and the definition of what a victim is can cause stress to people.

“A lot of victims and their families from both sides of the community have suffered silently. There is a legacy there and we are seeing an increase in young people suffering mental health issues generally. “

The organisation is holding an anniversary event this weekend and have invited anyone who has used the service to attend.

The website, which will be launched later this week, can be found at www.calmsstresscentre.org and CALMS can be contacted on 02871268698.

The 25th anniversary event will take place at the Waterfoot Hotel on November 23 at 6:30pm. Tickets (priced at £35) can be purchased from CALMS.