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Darkness into Light 2024

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Saturday 11th May was the 2024 Darkness into light event with Listening Ear the partner charity for Antrim and Newtownabbey. In advance of the event we were supported in the promotion of the event by the Captains of Crusaders FC Billy Joe Burns and Julie Nelson, Darryl Tweed motor bike racer, Jordan Thompson of Stoke City and Northern Ireland, Philip Brett MLA, Councillor Billy Webb and numerous other councillors and community groups. 

It was wonderful to see the increased numbers of the public attending and taking part in the event.

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Health Minister Robin Swann visit

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Health Minister Robin Swann paid a return visit to Listening Ear. During his visit the Minister received an update on the work completed over the course of the last few years which had been supported via a grant from his Department.

The Minister then spend some time taking questions from the Ladies of the Knit and Natter group.

History Group visit to Dublin

May seen the Listening Ear history group travel to Dublin for the weekend. The group had excellent guided tours of the Irish Presidents palace, Phoenix Park , Boyne visitors centre and a special "Orange" tour of Dublin. So much history in a small area. A big thank you to Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council Good Relations Department and Clanmil housing for your support.

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Valentines Day bake off

Valentines day seen the Knit and Natter Bake off and what a completion was had. The independent judges had a difficult job to undertake and in the end the competition was decided by one point.

Brilliant entries by all the competitors

Major Rupert Stanley Memorial Masonic Lodge 831

Listening Ear had the pleasure of attending the installation of Officers of Major Rupert Stanley Memorial Masonic Lodge 831 in Freemasons Hall Crumlin Road. During the festive board a short talk on Listening Ears work was given and a donation was received from the Lodge to support our work. 

Thank you for the invitation, the donation and a great day

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The Great Gadsby Murder Mystery Night

An entertaining evening with a difference for the seniors. Over the course of the evening and during the serving of the courses the actors delivered a brilliant engaging performance. Everyone that attended got involved and are looking forward to the next one. A big thank you to NIHE and Clanmill Housing

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Listening Ear goes carting

As part of our youth engagement and with the support of Thrive a group involved with the mental health youth mural had an evening at Need 4 Speed.

It was brilliant. The young people attending were flying around the track.

Brian Kerr, Chair of Listening Ear, was delighted to be a guest speaker and then to facilitate a table at Thrive Newtownabbey Pathways workshop.

The workshop was attended by reps from various government departments, youth organisations, council, academia, NRC, community orgs, skills and employment organisations.

The workshop looked at building connections; talking about how #WeCan connect community, skills and employers; listening to young people about what they want and need to find their pathway to work and wellbeing.


Working together in the Community


Listening Ear visited LCAP's community supermarket. The supermarket provides eleven weeks of support to those in need. Colour coding is used as price guides with an allocation for each to assist to work to a budget. For £5 per week £40 of groceries are received.

Thank you Brian Dunn for the invitation and showing us how the project works. Keep up the brilliant work.

Listening Ear were delighted to attend the South Antrim NIHE turn the tide bake off as part of the Homeless Awareness Week.

The competition was of a very high standard with a range of delicious bakes entered.

Congratulations to all who entered.



Thank you to 1919 (Newtownabbey) Squadron RAF Air Cadets for your invitation to attend and see your squadron.

We were very impressed by the discipline, the turnout of the cadets and the facilities.

If you are aged from Year 12 to age 16 you can join the local wing based in the Army Reserve Centre Abbotscross meeting each Monday 7pm to 10pm.

The Air Cadets offer leadership training, training on rifles and flying. As well as drill and discipline there are sports and camps and UCAS accredited courses.

The local wing also has its own IT suite with the opportunity to learn python programming, robotics, general electronics and 3D printing.

Christmas at Listening Ear

A massive thank you to M&S, Tesco, Sainsbury's and Lidl for their superb donation to the Listening Ear Christmas Eve free food market.

You have made Christmas happen for a lot of families in the area.







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Knit and Natter had a busy Christmas period; their Christmas dinner was held in Whitehouse Working Men's Club, a Christmas wreath making evening; a surprise visit from Santa and a Secret Santa day.

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Pre loved toys evening: This event allowed for parents and guardians to attend and select good quality preloved toys. 


The 2023 Santa's Little helpers project was a massive success. All we can say is Thank you. Your generosity is amazing. The quality and quantity of the presents donated by Businesses, Elected Reps, the Legendary Character Club, families and individuals was beyond what we had originally hoped for.

You have made Christmas happen for children and families.


Listening Ear was delighted to again support Councillor Leah Smyth in her annual Christmas pyjama collection for Women's Aid-ABCLN 

A massive thank you to Sainsbury's Hollywood Exchange for their food donation and BUPA dental care Newtownabbey for their food hamper donation to Listening Ear. These donations will be used to provide emergency food support to families over Christmas.


War time themed tea dance

Knit and Natter War time themed tea dance with live music, singers and a military piper. The Ladies definitely enjoyed this event.

Listening Ear Murals

Listening Ear murals have been completed today at the Dunanney Centre by Ace Spray Works NI.

The first was designed around the responses from young people in the area when asked what impacted their mental health, what stops them from seeking help and what would make them seek help.

The second was a blackboard to allow young ones to express themselves directly on the wall.



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Listening Ear Tea Dance

Great to see the groups in the area supporting each others events. Listening Ear's harvest tea dance warmly welcomed Joyce and the Breakaways, Wilma and Newtownabbey women's group for their help in decorating the room and our Knit and Natter Group. Friendship and laughter.

A big thank you to NIHE and Clanmil Housing Association for their support for today's tea dance.




1st Linfield Newtownabbey Supports Club donation

1st Newtownabbey Linfield Supporters Club held their annual “Billy Neill” charity football match on Sunday 15th October. In front of a large crowd a great game was competed between a Lee Doherty 1st Newtownabbey Select and Irish League Select. This years designated charity was Listening Ear based in the Dunanney Centre in Rathcoole. Listening Ear provides a non judgmental confidential service supporting the community with mental health, suicide prevention, welfare, drug/ alcohol addiction misuse, housing and debt.


After the game a donation was made to Listening Ear by Mr Brian Hamilton, Chairman of 1st Newtownabbey Linfield Supporters Club. Brian Kerr, Chair of Listening Ear, responded on the history and services available from Listening Ear. Karen Kerr, Manager of Listening Ear, advised that the donation received would be used in its entirety to provide free professional mental health counselling for children.


Community supporting community to meet community needs.


Knit & Natter Summer trips.


The Knit and Natter group continue to meet on a Wednesday. In addition to their usual meetings they have been enjoying bus trips around Northern Ireland. The start of August they had a shopping and cultural day in Londonderry. The middle of August a shopping trip to St Georges Market and the end of August will see them visiting Newcastle.

A big thank you to Rathcoole Neighbourhood renewal, NIHE and Clanmil.

Trip to Windsor Park for Rathcoole FC


As part of Listening Ears outreach program we were delighted 

to take Rathcoole FC for a tour of Windsor Park and on to McDonalds for a take away.

We hope the girls enjoy the tour and seeing the players.

A massive thank you to Linfield FC and Linfield Chairman Roy McGivern.

Hopefully some of the girls will be playing here at international level in the future.




School Uniform re-use scheme


Listening Ear were delighted to again partner with Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council for this years school uniform re-use scheme. This scheme helps to support families and to reuse school uniforms in great condition. Helping people and the environment.

Men's recent history trip to South Armagh.


Listening Ear organised a trip for 30 people to have a guided tour of South Armagh. Our guide for the day was the very knowledgeable Quincey Dougan. The tour was informative, educational and powerful detailing the recent history within this area.

A big thank you to our funders for enabling this trip.

Youth Engagement evening.

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With  the support of Thrive Listening Ear held a youth engagement night. An enthusiastic group of youth attended tonight and fully engaged with Kirsten MUA and Jay's barbers. Great input and ideas from all who attended. Watch this space for a project coming from these ideas.

Rathcoole 70th Anniversary

To mark the 70th anniversary of the Rathcoole estate Listening Ear has produced a limited edition (200) badge.

The badges are available from our office at a cost of £2.50 with ALL profits going to the Santa's Little Helpers campaign.


Working towards a better safer community.

On a request from Rathcoole FC youth Listening Ear facilitated a mental health and resilience course for the for their girls team.

It was a pleasure to support the club in this project and it was great to see the girls gain a lot from the course.

With support from the PCSP Listening Ear have been able to supply 234 personal alarms to the community. Another step forward to help protect the community.

The Development of Unionism, 1885 - Present lectures by Dr Andrew Charles

A six week course was delivered by Dr Andrew Charles on the Development of Unionism, 1885 to the present day. The attendees were beginners to those that have studied the subject for many years. All gained and learnt from the lectures.

Darkness into light 2023

Listening Ear are delighted to be the partner charity with Antrim and Newtownabbey Council for the 2023 Darkness into Light . Thank you Niall Quinn from Linfield FC for his support during the launch of Darkness into Light 2023.

Sign up to Antrim and Newtownabbey darkness into light or donate via the link. Click on Antrim and Newtownabbey. Listening Ear are the local partner charity. Every penny goes to helping people through the darkness and into the light.[0]=AZWUKIdQAMKThz9eihFOScPLzJJQzGcrYm750pRQGnpeieyHJ1faIFpNOyNcVChsvTHHPKX0sKI_mmFrmRU0KMeNxXWZbrTKa2kE7aie05AWUDF58hXqQ0XdF5wkwpez-d4a_-9vuimvECwoQIA7lR9Md5af12PJ15tl00jrcolojdjneTYnxFt0ESVoeB5L4ks3UUvc_iRgOG0L285EEnhG&__tn__=-UC%2CP-y-R

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Mental Health Counsellor Announcement

Listening Ear are delighted to announce the provision of professional Mental Health Counsellor sessions for those Clients that need this level of support.

Funding has been secured to commence the sessions from Mid January 2023.

Due to pressures on our Health Service some individuals are having to wait on appointments. This service will provide quick access to counselling.

Another step forward.


Christmas toy appeal

Listening Ear Christmas Toy Appeal 2022.

All the toys have been donated, are second-hand, are in good condition and free. If any of these toys would make a difference for your family this Christmas please call in.

In addition Listening Ear facilitated a POP UP shop by Restore and Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council.


LEAD Group complete Personal Leadership & Confidence Building

Rathcoole LEAD Group completed Personal Leadership and Confidence Building Programme.

Edward Hanna, Utopian Learning "I love it when we get a few minutes away from the hustle and bustle to catch up with some of our learners and present certificates.
It was a lovely moment today to be able to present Samantha, Karen and all the ladies who took part in our Personal Leadership and Confidence Building Programme with their certs.

Well done to all the ladies and to Listening Ear for hosting and supporting such a wonderful initiative."


BBC Good Morning Ulster

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Rathcoole Ladies in Education and Development (LEAD) group members receiving their OU Foundation degree certificates this morning.

Congratulations Ladies we knew you would succeed.





Christmas Events

The build up to Christmas has been busy at Listening Ear. The free food market seen a special Christmas event supported by M&S Newtownabbey.

The Knit and Natter group had their Christmas dinner and a visit from Santa

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Santa's Little Helpers

We are delighted and have been amazed at the support the Santa's little helpers project received this year. The presents received have made Christmas for the families.

A big thank you to the individuals and businesses that made it happen, the faces of the children on Christmas morning will light up their homes.

Those that have requested to remain anonymous we take this opportunity to directly thank you.



Blown away by the amazing donation received today for Santa's Little Helpers program.

Karen Bell and her friends collected £600 and her boss from Manguard Plus NI matched the amount. Today they delivered presents valued at £1200.

You have made Christmas happen.

A big thank you.


Thales Donation

A big thank you to Mr Harry McIlveen and the employees of Thales for their kind donation to Listening Ear.


This donation will make a difference to families as they approach Christmas.




Listening Ear visit to Dublin


Listening hosted an educational visit for the community to Dublin. Day 1 of the trip began with a visit and tour of the Boyne heritage centre and then a guided tour of Leinster House. Day 2 seen the group on tour of Dublin detailing the Orange history of the city. 

Thank you to ANBC Good relations Department and NIHE for supporting these events.

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Hate Crime Awareness Week

Listening Ear were delighted to attend the launch of a new initiative as part of Hate Crime Awareness Week by Antrim and Newtownabbey PSNI

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Drug and alcohol awareness session

NIDACTS Connections delivered a Drug and Alcohol awareness session to Listening Ear

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Safe Place training

Courses successfully completed on Safe Place Awareness Raising and Community Safe Place Advocates.

Listening Ear is already certified as a Safe Place Organisation.



Henderson Group

Listening Ear are delighted to receive a community cashback grant from the Henderson Group this morning.
This grant will be used for food vouchers.



Queens Platinum Jubilee Celebrations


Queens Platinum jubilee party hosted by Listening Ear and supported by Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council and James Brown & Sons Funeral Directors.

Free Community fun day with live singer, BBQ, inflatables, glitter tattoos, face painting and hook a duck.


School Uniform Re-Use Schemes are back again this year and being delivered across the Borough this summer.

Not only can School Uniform Re-use Schemes relieve some of the financial pressures of buying brand-new uniforms every year, but they also help to save the environment by reducing carbon emissions and saving perfectly-good items from landfills.

There are 8 Community Groups confirmed across the Borough delivering a scheme this year.

Information on all schemes and operational detail can be found on the Council Website here:

*Please note additional groups may be added throughout the summer*

For full details on when to donate and how to access the schemes please visit


Darkness into light


Darkness into light.

We gather this morning at V36 as an act of solidarity for people affected by suicide and self-harm.

As darkness gives way to light; as yesterday becomes history, and a new day emerges full of potential; a day of hope is born.

At times it may seem that you are alone and in pain, but the people here this morning prove that you are not facing this alone. We are here to help and support you see the dawn each morning. However, if you need a non-judgemental empathetic listening ear we are here for you.



Updates and trips

Listening Ear have received funding from the Department of Health to employee fulltime members of staff from the start of April 2022 after operating on a fully volunteer basis since 2018. This will ensure that the Office is staffed full time in order to provide more appointments for the services provided.

Between the start of November 2021 to the middle of March 2022 Listening Ear provided new white goods to a value of £12000. These appliances were given to those either homeless or at threat of becoming homeless.

March seen the Knit and Natter group group visit Colemans Garden Centre and April seen Abbey Allsorts visiting Armagh Planetarium.

Listening Ear supported by NIHE are delighted to lead a two year program for those with homeless points going into a Housing Executive property in Newtownabbey 1 and 2. This program will support with decorating costs and white good.


NIVSO Veterans Roadshow

Listening Ear were delighted to be part of the Veterans Roadshow hosted by NIVSO in the Dunadry Hotel on the 8th February 2022. 

New connections made and our services introduced to new clients.

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An Ulster-Scots Evening

The first Ulster Scots evening for Listening Ear: highland dancers, Centenary talk by Quincey Dougan and then a Chef talking through an Ulster Scots menu. Attendees of all ages enjoying an evening together.


Listening Ear Lobbying at the House of Commons and House of Lords

Listening Ear lobbying at the House of Commons and House of Lords. Raising individual client cases  and issues impacting the community. Great to receive support from both Houses.


Meeting with HRH Duchess of Glouchesters

Covid 19 volunteer awards night

Rathcoole Covid 19 volunteer awards night compared by Councillor Robert Foster, awards presented by the Mayoy of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council Councillor Billy Webb JP.

Attendees Listening Ear, Cloughfern District LOL No 24 , Billy Boy FB, Abbey Allsorts, Rathcoole FC, Newtownabbey Women's Group, Methodist Mission, The Breakaways, Team JVC, Marks and Spencer's and ANBC Council staff.

Thank you all. You made a difference to our community.



Health Minister Visit

A constructive afternoon for Listening Ear having a private meeting with HRH The Duchess of Gloucester.


Robin Swann, Health Minister, attended Listening Ear on the morning of the 31st August 2021. During his visit the Minister heard of the work undertaken to date, the work ongoing and the plans for the future.

We look forward to future meetings.


Northern Ireland Mental Health Champion Visit

Abbey Allsorts Summer Scheme

Professor Siobhan O'Neill, Mental health Champion, visited the Listening Ear office on the 31st August 2021.

The start of the next stage for Listening Ear.


Abbey Allsorts summer scheme 2021. A busy week for the members of Abbey Allsorts. The summer scheme included visits to the Ark Open Farm, Airtastic, VIP seats at the Movie House and Aunt Sandra's sweet factory. The children and parents/ guardians also enjoyed a party disco and a visit from the Big White Coach team.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson Visit

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School Uniform recycling scheme

Listening Ear had the pleasure of a meeting with Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP, Paula Bradley MLA, Councillor Victor Robinson and Councillor Paul Hamill.

A positive meeting discussing the progress and future plans of Listening Ear within the Macedon area.

The needs of the community were raised and discussed.

Further meetings with Sir Jeffrey Donaldson to be held.


It was great to welcome the Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey Cllr Billy Webb MBE JP and Alderman McGrath to the School Uniform Scheme ran by Listening Ear in the Dunnaney Centre today.

Uniforms are available from a range of local schools. They are all good quality and free to anyone with children attending the local schools.

Just pop in to Listening Ear or ring them on 028 9508 5934 to check stock and sizes. #reusereducerecycle

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Visit from Doug Beattie MLA


Listening Ear chaired a community dialogue between Doug Beattie MLA and business owners, community groups reps, Loyal Order reps and voluntary group reps. The event allowed for lobbying to occur directly between the community and the Leader of the UUP.

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The area is seeing an increase in the number of positive COVID-19 tests. If you test positive for Covid-19 it is important that your oxygen levels are monitored. To allow for this to occur Listening Ear have 30 pulse oximeters which can be loaned out.

Once the units are no longer required by the individual they will be sealed and fogged prior to re issue to the next person.




Northern Ireland Veterans Support Office

We are delighted to work with the Northern Ireland Veterans Support Office.


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DFC community Support

Listening Ear will be working with Department for Communities in the next round of Covid-19 support.

If you have been financially impacted by Covid-19 and require support and assistance please phone 02895085934 between 11am and 2pm to register for food, baby essentials, cleaning and personal hygiene products.

Listening Ear will be supporting the Macedon area, excluding Whiteabbey. Whiteabbey hub will cover Whiteabbey.



Week 1 & 2. A busy 8 days with the hampers. A total of £2000 of food, cleaning products, personal hygiene and meat has been delivered to homes in the Macedon area. We hope this has helped the families that received them.

Week 3:

Another busy week for Listening Ear with community support covering housing, welfare, mental health, training and domestic violence. Please remember Listening Ear is a Safe Place

£1000 of food, hygiene and cleaning materials distributed this week to those in need.

New fridges and chest freezer now in to support the program.

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Training Opportunities

Essential Skills MATH course.

If you would like to study this course please contact us to register your interest. This course will be commencing on the 10th February in the evenings for 15 weeks.

If you would like to study for a CSR card or CMI L2 Award in Team Leading or CMI L3 award in coaching and mentoring or CMI L3 award in Principles of management and leadership please contact us and register your interest.

ONLINE essential skills ICT Course.

If you are interested in this course please contact us for further information. The courses are scheduled to start on the 24th February 2021.

Requirements: Computer equipment/software/Wi-Fi connected, Must have basic computer skills (use the internet/email/simple word etc.)

If you feel you have strong computer skills, please go for the 10 week groups. However, if you feel you would like to spend extra time to embed what you are learning please go for the 16 week groups.

Homeless Veteran housed

Homeless Veteran housed.

Yesterday one of our clients received the keys to his new home. Listening Ear records our thanks to the Northern Ireland Veterans Support Office, the Housing Executive and Jimmy Joe for their assistance in making this possible; this support was invaluable. All completed in a short period of time during Covid and Christmas.

It shows when people work together and statutory bodies work with community organisations all things are possible.

Listening Ear has also provided a new home pack to the client. May you have many happy peaceful years in your new home.






Listening ear liaised with Barnardos to ensure a family received toys for Christmas.

When groups work together success occurs.


Listen Share Change

Listening Ear supported by the Housing Executive are planning to host a "Listen Share Change" course starting in January for 10 weeks via zoom.

If you are interested in taking part please PM us and when details are finalised we can advise.

Keep yourself engaged during periods of lockdown.


Happy Christmas

Abbey Allsorts members received a special visit from Listening Ear and Santa.

Last week was a busy week for Listening Ear with the delivery of the Christmas Covid-19 project on top of the normal day to day work.

Over the course of the week £1500 in gas and electricity, £1000 in meat hampers, £1000 in toy vouchers and £2500 on food hampers were delivered to people's homes.

Thank you for the volunteers that supported us in this work.




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