Major Move For Life Changes Changes Lives

‘Life Changes Changes Lives’ (LCCL)is a registered health charity in Downpatrick that upcycles furniture… and people’s lives. And it has now moved into a Market Street shop property and is looking forward to a busy time ahead.

The brainchild of Manus and Ailish Teague, LCCL was set up three years ago and has grown from strength to strength.

Manus said: “It’s aim is to provide social space and room for people to interact who have experienced mental health and addiction issues. It is there to help too to remove the barriers of social isolation which can be very damaging to people who live alone.

Santander have awarded Life Changes Changes Lives in Downpatrick £5000 from their community fund towards counselling services. Included from left are Nicole Laverty, Santander Customer Service Adviser; Eileen Pressaght; Brian Farrelly; Jack Manley, Santander Personal Adviser; Ailish and Manus Teague, LCCL organisers; and Natalie Mussett, with Jeffrey Connolly, front seated.

“Our main activity is in upcycling old furniture and other assorted items and essentially it comes down to the person being upcycled too in a very therapeutic environment moving to a healthier position. As the users come here and start working on their chosen pieces of furniture etc, their concentration is great and this is all part of the process of helping them too to reflect on their own lives and to move forward with any issues they have such as changing their personal goals in life.

“We will be running counselling session in the upstairs area. We have three fully qualified BACP registered counsellors who will work in the therapy centre. We provide psychodynamic and person centred counselling to our clients where necessary. We were delighted recently to be awarded the sum of £5000 towards counselling costs from Santander in Downpatrick.”

Ailish explained: “Our Big Lottery funding which we are delighted with at the moment does not include core costs for counsellors which are an integral part of our work. The Lottery funding has ensured that our initiative has managed to survive and thrive. We made three applications to the Lottery and were successful on the fourth one which provides us with funding for two years. Our aim now is to work towards being a sustainable organisation so we can survive without grant aid in the longer term.”

Looking forward to getting LCCL into shape: Manus Teague, second left, with his wife Ailish, organisers of Life Changes Changes Lives, pictured with Ciaran, PJ, Natalie, Margaret and Briege.

“LCCL receives referrals from Social Services, GP’s and people also approach them directly to come aboard their upcycling work. We also run a Community Service  programme for the Department of Justice and offenders can spend their time with us constructively helping others and also going through a process of personal reflection.

“So we are on the main street in Market Street, we are not hiding away. We hope to get trading shortly and look forward to people who are out shopping dropping in and viewing and possibly buying some of our finished works. Basically our attitude is that our volunteers and users are proud to be working to get well.

“We will expand our range in the future to include craft items. Our volunteers and members are excited about this new move from our old premises in The Grove Shopping Centre not too far away. This location is much better as it is visible to the passers-by on the main street.”

The voluntary and community sector may be currently reeling with the uncertainties and pressures on funding and politics, but LCCL have been thrown a lifeline from The Big Lottery and Santander to help the volunteers and users on their journey in life… to upcycle furniture, and to help themselves in the process to become healthier and happier.