Winner declared in cross-party Movember challenge!
A winner has been announced in the cross-party Movember competition between Newry Mourne and Down Councillors Patrick Brown, Alan Lewis and John Trainor.
According to the public, Cllr Lewis has topped the polls with his horseshoe ‘tache’, taking a jaw dropping 63% of the votes. Cllr Trainor came in second, pipping Cllr Brown to the runner’s up post by just two points.
However, whilst the competition was lighthearted, the message behind the challenge was not. The councillors used their collective platforms to raise funds (almost £700) and awareness around male mental health.
Alliance Cllr. Brown said: “Whilst we all enjoy a bit of healthy competition and may not always see eye to eye in the Council chambers, we’ve never been more united in our goal.
“The issue of male mental health is one that goes beyond party politics, and impacts men across the District, no matter who they vote for in the polling station.
“Now more than ever we need to talk to each other and de-stigmatize the idea that it isn’t ‘manly’ to be open with how you are feeling. There is a clear need for increased access to mental health services across Northern Ireland, and we will continue to push for provisions to be made to support those who need it.
“We hope that this challenge will break down barriers and lead to increased cross-party collaboration in tackling this critical issue.
“In the meantime, I’d ask that you check in with your friends, family and neighbours – and please know that all of us are always available to lend a listening ear.”
SDLP Cllr Trainor added: “This was a great opportunity to come together and raise awareness about a problem that is facing our constituents across the District.
“There is still plenty more work to do, and I look forward to our continued collaboration.
“I’d like to thank everyone who has donated so far. The Men’s Shed Association is a fantastic organisation, that we are privileged to support – so if you can spare anything, please consider this worthwhile cause.”
UUP Cllr Lewis said: “The Ulster Unionist Party are back on top, and it’s a landslide,” joked Alan. “I’d like to thank all those who voted for me.
“On a serious note, this has been a great opportunity to raise the important issue of mental health, engage with constituents, and raise some funds for a good cause – all while having a bit of craic.
“The Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride has described mental health and its associated suicide rate as the biggest challenge facing the health service here. Northern Ireland has the highest suicide rate on these islands with the most vulnerable men in the teenage to 45 years age groups.
“It is imperative that as a society we do everything possible to support people in crisis. Collectively we will continue to lobby for increased services, greater awareness and more detailed signposting for those in clear and urgent need of referral.
“I truly hope that anyone who needs help and support are directed toward services which will improve their quality of life. We shouldn’t be afraid to discuss mental health or ask for help…
it’s okay not to be okay, my door is always open to anyone who needs help, wants to talk or needs signposted to appropriate assistance.
“I hope this is the first of many fundraising initiatives taken on by myself and Cllrs Brown and Trainor. I’m certainly up for the challenge or using my position to reside awareness or affect change.”