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The ARC Healthy Living Centre, located in Sallywood Estate Irvinestown, aims to address the health inequalities and improve the well-being of local people by bringing together a partnership of community health and services.
The origins of ARC Healthy Living Centre are closely aligned with the work of Irvinestown Trustee Enterprise Company Ltd (ITEC). ITEC is a non-profit taking company limited by guarantee and was incorporated in 1994. ITEC aims to increase economic development and employment opportunities in the town of Irvinestown and surrounding hinterland, and currently manages over 55,000 square feet of affordable workspace located in and around the Irvinestown area.
However in the 1990s, ITEC recognised that the rate of social development was not happening at the same pace as economic development in the Irvinestown area. Serious social problems were evident in areas such as the Sallyswood Estate. This prompted ITEC in partnership with the local community and other stakeholders, to identify that there was a need for a facility to help address these problems. As a result the ARC Healthy Living Centre was created.
The ARC Healthy Living Centre responds to the needs of the local community by providing opportunities to enable and empower people to develop their own resources for creative and healthy living. The Centre works very closely with local communities and promotes community participation and volunteering. An example of this is ARC’s close relationship with Irvinestown Community Partnership which acts as community forum for 36 community groups. ARC actively listens and responds to issues raised by the forum.
The Centre delivers services to over 11 rural wards with high levels of deprivation, poor statutory services infrastructure, high levels of unfit housing and high levels of long term sickness. The ARC Centre operates in ‘hard to reach’ areas which are often neglected. In addition to the Health Living Centre based in Irvinestown, ARC also has a number other sites geographically located throughout the targeted area to help deliver its services. A key component of its work involves delivering health programmes. This involves a combination of both the Centres self designed programmes in addition to a number of health programmes from public sector bodies which they have successfully tendered for. Examples of these programmes include Cherish Sure Start and Solace.
Cherish Sure Start works with parents and children to promote the physical, social, emotional development of pre-school children. In particular this programme is aimed at those children who are disadvantaged to ensure that they are well prepared for school. SOLACE (Supportive Opportunities for Living with Addiction in a Community Environment) provides a support service aiming to reduce harm caused by chronic addiction, to individuals, families, and communities. A key aspect of ARC is that has a broad interpretation of the concept of healthy living and in addition to delivering local health programmes, it also provides high quality childcare at the Active Allsorts Children’s Centre, as well as hosting a range of additional services. Additional services host by the Centre includes providing access to the Housing Executive Advice Clinic, Community Mental Health Care staff, statutory addiction counselling services, Relate, and Citizens Advice Bureau.
At the time of writing the Centre employs 81 people in addition to 102 volunteers who make a significant contribution its operations. Surpluses that are generated by ITEC are reinvested back into the ARC Healthy Living Centre. Both of these organisations have a close relationship and share the same Chief Executive Officer. This helps to plan for the future and share experiences and knowledge across both companies.
ARC Healthy Living Ltd has ambitious plans for the future, including plans to develop a state of the art Health and Care Village which will be one of the first of its kind in Europe. This will engage the services of doctors, nurses, dentists and other health professionals. ARC envisages this as a being new and more sustainable model of health care. Rather than focus on the treatment of illness, the new model of health care in Irvinestown will provide a greater focus on the prevention of illness and encourage people to keep themselves healthier for longer.
ARC Health Living Centre makes an invaluable contribution to social and economic life in Co. Fermanagh. The contribution and success of the Centre has been well documented. This was clearly demonstrated last year when Prime Minister David Cameron along with the then Secretary of State Owen Paterson visited the Centre.