Aras Follain – Looking after our Mental Wellbeing in North Tipperary, Limerick and Clare

Community Reconnect and Recovery Networks (RnR Project)

An innovative Peer Initiative in Nenagh has proven so successful that it is being replicated throughout the Midwest with the support of Genio funding.  It all started in 2004 with a Peer Support Befriending project, when a small group of people developed a programme to train and match Peer Befrienders with support from the HSE and the local Mental Health Ireland Development Officer.  The aim of the project was for people to learn how to support each other on their recovery journeys.

In Spring, 2006 the Peer Support project organised a half day workshop and week’s training on Intentional Peer Support with Shery Mead, an internationally recognised expert in Peer Support from the USA.  Both events were well attended by professionals and service users from all over Ireland.  It was the beginning of a network of peers engaged in recovery work in different areas in the country.

In Spring, 2007, the Peer Support project moved into a community based centre which has become Aras Follain, Peer Support Centre.  The Centre’s mission statement has facilitated the development of a safe and supportive place for Peer activities to thrive.  It states that ‘Aras Follain provides an environment where people have an opportunity to develop their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.  We facilitate individuals and groups in their respective challenges to follow their dreams and achieve healthy lifestyles through peer support, self advocacy and personal development.’

The Centre is run by a steering committee made up of representatives of the groups which use the Centre.  The groups and courses that are based at the Centre have been developed or sourced in response to identified interests and needs of the Centre’s users.  Some of the activities and groups have included:  SHINE Family Support Group, Women’s Support Group, Social Circle, Open House, Mums on the Move, Active Minds/Active Bodies, SHINE Phrenz group, GROW, WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Planning), Mindfulness, Young girls group, Parenting Courses, Dry Stone Wall/Stone Carving course, Stained Glass course, Cook It course, Kids Club, Wednesday Wellness talks, Autism Support Group, Laughter Yoga, Gardening and Family Barbeque Days.  Information on activities at the Centre is shared via text, the website (currently being updated) and Facebook, as well as newspaper advertisements and flyers posted throughout the community.

Aras Follain is a peer-led, community-based project anyone from the community is welcome to attend. The shared experience of recovery through peer support in such a positive setting is a source of hope and healing for people who use the Centre.

Aras Follain has received numerous awards including the 2010 Achievement Award for best project at the Mental Health Ireland Annual Conference in Galway and the 2010 Social Inclusion Award from CAVA (Community and Voluntary Association) in North Tipperary


Based on the overwhelming success of Aras Follain in Nenagh, a group of volunteers in the Midwest received Genio funding in 2010/11 to set up the RnR project, which seeks to replicate the Peer Support Centre model throughout North Tipperary, Limerick and Clare.

The RnR project has consisted of a series of ‘Train the trainer’ workshops on WRAP, Peer Support and Self Advocacy, in order to create capacity to continue the project beyond the funded period.  The Irish Advocacy Network (IAN) developed and delivered the 3 day Self Advocacy training.  Matthew Frederici,  Director of the Copeland Centre, Philadephia, USA delivered a 5 day Advanced Level WRAP facilitator training to 17 people who are now qualified to train and certify WRAP facilitators to the standard of the Copeland Centre.  The Peer Support module was developed by project members utilising previous training and the expertise that has been developed by service users delivering peer support.

The outcomes of the RnR project will include a network of Peer Support projects throughout the Midwest, a training package that includes WRAP, Peer Support and Self Advocacy, and a National Conference on December 2nd in Limerick to highlight Peer Initiatives and Recovery Networks in Ireland and abroad.  Members of the Scottish Recovery Network have been involved in the project and have been invited to the Conference when we hope to explore the establishment of an Irish Recovery Network.  There are also plans to develop a directory of Peer Initiatives in Ireland to enhance networking and sharing of information.

Anyone who has an interest in visiting Aras Follain or learning more about the RnR project, the Community Respite project or the Peer Initiatives Conference in December please feel free to contact any of the people listed below or you may wish to attend anyo of the open info evenings in your area –

Aras Folllain, Nenagh – Thursday Sept 15th @ 8pm

Park Avenue House, Thurles, Tuesday 20th Sept @ 8pm

NTLP Roscrea, Wednesday 21st Sept @8pm

Margo O’Donnell-Roche, Co-ordinator,

Aras Follain and RnR project North Tipperary,

086/0223240 (Video presentation on Aras Follain and RnR project)

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