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First official museum visit for new Minister

New Minister for Communities Deirdre Hargey embraces community outreach project in first official museum visit

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In her first official engagement as Minister for Communities, Deirdre Hargey, has visited the Ulster Museum to celebrate a community-based project which has actively improved the wellbeing of older people at risk of social exclusion.

The project, Live Well, has been delivered by National Museums NI over the past three years with funding provided by the National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Communities. Almost 600 sessions have been delivered to encourage the development of new skills and social connections through museums-based learning activities.

Social isolation and loneliness are common problems amongst older people and can have a detrimental effect on many aspects of their health and wellbeing. People engaged in the project have reiterated the importance of having opportunities to be in a learning environment as a critical factor in maintaining their mental health and building their confidence. An independent evaluation of the project has found that 98% of participants felt they got to know people better, 96% reported feeling more confident and 100% engaged in new learning.

During her visit Minister Hargey got an opportunity to meet some of the Live Well participants.  She said: “Older people are the bedrock of our communities.  Their stories and memories are the bridge from the past to the present.  The Live Well project is a perfect demonstration of how our museums deliver real educational and social value to local communities.  The project has proved highly effective in reaching older people and having a positive impact on the wellbeing of the people involved.”

Kathryn Thomson, Chief Executive of National Museums NI, said:

“Our museums play a vital role in helping people and communities connect with collections, culture and, importantly, with each other. Museums exist for the benefit of everyone and we are committed to increasing access for everyone to generate a positive social impact through projects such as Live Well.”