Epilepsy Charity Teams up with Belfast Comedian

Epilepsy Charity Teams up with Belfast Comedian

A free counselling service that has the potential to support the 20,000 people currently living with epilepsy Northern Ireland is now available for them, their families and carers. 

The Talk and Support service is run by Epilepsy Action Northern Ireland, and with the help of its specialist counsellors, the charity believes it can be the first point of contact for local people as they embark on their epilepsy journey, especially as waiting lists in Northern Ireland are the worst in the whole of the UK. 

The counselling support programme is free and confidential and can be accessed online and by telephone, through self-referral on the EpilepsyAction.org.uk website or by calling 028 9018 4015. 

People can seek support that suits them and their needs, with professional counsellors offering faster access to one off session or blocks of more intensive counselling support groups.

The roll out of the programme not only comes at a time when it can take between four to five years for an urgent referral in neurology, it also dovetails into the objectives laid out in the Northern Ireland Executive’s 10 Year Mental Health Strategy, launched last year. This strategy seeks to create a vision for Northern Ireland society by promoting emotional wellbeing and positive mental health for everyone, by supporting recovery, and reducing stigma and mental health inequalities.

Carla Smyth, manager for Epilepsy Action in Northern Ireland said, “Northern Ireland’s waiting lists are dire. Waiting up to 5 years for an urgent referral to see a neurologist is not acceptable for local people diagnosed with epilepsy and their families. At Epilepsy Action Northern Ireland, we are delighted to offer this free counselling service as it offers hope to people who can’t get instant help from their GP and who maybe can’t afford to pay for a private appointment.

“Being diagnosed with epilepsy can be frightening, and people often don’t know where to go to seek help. Our aim is that our qualified and specialist counsellors will be the first point of contact for people and give them advice, support and reassurance that they are not alone and support them longer term as they learn to live with an epilepsy diagnosis.” 

Feedback from participants that have engaged the 8-week programme reported that the sessions helped them “explore their emotions and gain a greater level of acceptance by realising that they can still live a full life albeit in a different way”.

Belfast comedian Paddy Raff, who’s sister Sarah, now in her early-30s has both epilepsy and other additional needs including cerebral palsy, is supporting the roll out of Epilepsy Action Northern Ireland’s free counselling support service.

He says, “As someone with a sibling with epilepsy, I am supporting Epilepsy Action Northern Ireland’s counselling service as it is something me and my family could really have benefited from when Sarah first had an acquired brain injury. 

“Back in the nineties there was no internet, so finding out information or people in similar situations wasn’t always easy. I know there are more online resources now, but they lack a personal touch. Putting a face or voice to conversations and being able to speak to a real person and not just looking stuff up is so beneficial and having facts that can be backed up with science is very important to ensure you are getting the right advice. 

“Although as a family we are able to manage Sarah’s needs, epilepsy is an ever-present threat, and my mum, who is Sarah’s primary carer, needs to keep on top of it. A counselling service such as this is great to help us understand more about epilepsy and to talk through what we were experiencing and what help was available.”

To find out more about the free programme please log onto www.epilepsy.org.uk @epilespyaction on Twitter @Epilepsy Action Northern Ireland on Facebook or call the Epilepsy Action Helpline on freephone 0808 800 5050.

Epilepsy Action Northern Ireland is supported by the Department of Health’s Mental Health Fund.

NI’s Brightest Comedy Star Completes Successful Tour

NI’s Brightest Comedy Star Completes Successful Tour

We recently worked with Northern Ireland’s brightest comedy star Emer Maguire to promote her brand-new show, Up to high doh.

Touring across Northern Ireland, Emer explored the weird and wonderful human experience with her unique storytelling and musical comedy style. 

Audiences were taken on a laugh out loud journey that saw Emer perform a myriad of hilarious yet heart-warming songs. From new songs such as “Girls Night” and “Too Good For Me”, to classic crowd favourites such as “Middle Child” and “Stage Fright”, there was something for everyone. And of course there was plenty of opportunity for Emer to use her trademark off the cuff hilarious interactions with the home crowd. 

Last year, Emer packed out the Ulster Hall in Belfast for her first ever show, followed by sold out follow up shows in The Mac and the Grand Opera House in Belfast, The Courthouse in Bangor. She also returned to her hometown of Strabane to showcase how far she has come since bursting onto the comedy scene in 2019 with her debut sold out Edinburgh Fringe tour ‘Hilarious Humans.’

More information on Emer Maguire can be found at http://www.emermaguire.com


Shining a Light on the NI Cleantech Sector

Shining a Light on the NI Cleantech Sector

Award-winning Northern Irish cleantech company LUMENSTREAM has raised £400k of seed investment led by Techstart Ventures. This is the largest seed investment generated by a cleantech company based locally and will help create 12 new positions within the company. 

LUMENSTREAM offers an innovative “Pay as you Save” platform it calls ‘LED Lighting as a Service’ to some of the world’s largest energy-consuming businesses and its services are proving popular as the global cost of living crisis hits businesses and consumer households alike. 

This is the first time LUMENSTREAM has taken seed investment and the funds provided will increase the remote project development team by 12, with members currently based across Belfast, Manchester, Birmingham and London.

Following its launch in 2019, LUMENSTREAM has upgraded commercial buildings to LED lighting with sensor controls for no upfront capital cost. This enables companies to save up to 85% on their lighting costs while dramatically reducing their carbon emissions and removing maintenance requirements for the contract duration.

A fraction of the energy saving is then paid to LUMENSTREAM as a monthly subscription fee for the initial five years, meaning its customers generate positive net cash flow immediately following project upgrade.

Alistair Brown, founder and chief executive officer of LUMENSTREAM explains: 

“Businesses are seeking ways to drastically reduce their energy consumption with environmentally driven sustainability targets in mind. With energy prices escalating and a squeeze on infrastructure investment, our clean Energy as a Service model helps businesses to achieve their targets without deploying capital expenditure. 

“Our business has been growing rapidly following the ease of COVID-19 restrictions and we are delighted to receive this round of funding to supercharge our scalability in 2023 and beyond. The funding will help us increase our customer base in the UK and further afield and put LUMENSTREAM firmly on the cleantech map.” 

Open Farm Weekend is Back on Farms for 2022

Open Farm Weekend is Back on Farms for 2022

Pulse PR is back working with Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend as it makes a welcome return back on farms on Friday 17 June to Sunday 19 June.

This is the first time since 2019 that farms are able to host in-person and 20 plus farms from across the province are looking forward to throwing open their gates and welcoming visitors inside. 

The initiative, led by the Ulster Farmers’ Union, with Bank of Ireland renewing its title sponsorship, is yet again set to capture the imagination of families and foodies from across the province and give a real behind the scenes snapshot of the local farm to fork story.

Richard Primrose, Bank of Ireland UK Agri-Business Managersaid: “We all know how vital a thriving agri-food industry is to communities within Northern Ireland and we’re proud to once again be the title sponsor of this event to show our support. Building on the success of the growing online audiences these past few years, we’re looking forward to farmers having the chance to showcase their farms in person once again. Being back on farm will provide the perfect opportunity to practically illustrate and educate consumers on how our local food is produced and continue to help foster the growth and prosperity of this industry.”

The last two years saw Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend take on a virtual format, and although the in-person interaction with farm families was missed, the event did reach a new audience from across Northern Ireland and beyond. With this in mind, selected farms will be streamed through Open Farm Weekend’s social media channels throughout the Friday and Saturday.  

Ulster Farmers’ Union Deputy President David Brown added; “We are delighted to be in a position to host Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend back on farms this year. The last two years have been a challenge for all our farm families and being able to welcome the public and share their passion and enthusiasm will be great to see. We are indebted to our title sponsor Bank of Ireland whose support has enabled us to deliver an engaging Open Farm Weekend programme of activities across the three days.

“Our aim with Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend is to showcase the outstanding contribution our farms and farm families make in producing the quality food we so often take for granted. Throughout this year’s event we will focus on Women in Agriculture, environmental issues and the farm to fork story and I encourage everyone to visit our farms, speak to our farm families and really celebrate the wonderful produce available right here in Northern Ireland.”

Participating Farms for Open Farm Weekend 2022 include: Acton House| Armagh Cider Company| Bessvale Farm| Blackberry Hill Farm| Bullsbrook Farm| Broughgammon Farm| Castlescreen Farm| Chesnutt Farms| Churchview Farm| CAFRE Greenmount Campus| CAFRE Enniskillen Campus| D&D Holland| Donagh Cottage Farm |Hollow Farm | Jamison Potatoes| Laurel View Farm| Long Meadow| Millbank Farm| Ranelly Farm| Seaview Farms

More information at www.openfarmweekend.com

Future Looking Bright for Local CleanTech Company

Future Looking Bright for Local CleanTech Company

Pulse PR is delighted to be working with award-winning Northern Irish CleanTech company LUMENSTREAM as it signs a framework agreement for financing £5m of a pipeline of future projects with investment and asset development company Aquila Capital, accelerating its broader expansion across the UK energy efficiency market.  LUMENSTREAM and Aquila Capital share a common goal to contribute to the global energy transition.   

LUMENSTREAM offers an innovative “Pay as you Save” platform it calls LED Lighting as a Service to some of the world’s largest energy-consuming businesses. This new bespoke funding deal will activate the delivery of its growing pipeline of commercial contracts.

The company’s clients already include global organisations such as SIEMENS and CIMC Group.

Following its launch in 2019, LUMENSTREAM upgrades commercial buildings to LED lighting with sensor controls for no upfront capital cost.  This enables companies to save up to 85% on their lighting costs while dramatically reducing their carbon emissions and removing maintenance requirements for the contract duration.

A fraction of the energy saving is then paid to LUMENSTREAM as a monthly subscription fee for the initial five years, meaning its customers generate positive net cash flow immediately following project upgrade.

Aquila Capital is a sustainable investment management and asset development company, headquartered in Hamburg, Germany, that successfully launched the Aquila Energy Efficiency Trust PLC on the London Stock Exchange in June 2021.

Chief executive officer for LUMENSTREAM, Alistair Brown, said that the new deal has long been a part of their strategic development. “Aquila Capital is a leading infrastructure investor in the energy efficiency and renewable energy space. Its track record of investing in contemporary business models is second to none, and we view it as the ideal long-term partner for achieving LUMENSTREAM’s plans for growth.”

Alex Betts, a senior investment manager at Aquila Capital said, “We are delighted to be supporting LUMENSTREAM’s projects. Improving the energy efficiency of lighting is a key area to reduce primary energy consumption, offering economic savings and CO2 reductions for commercial businesses in the UK. This agreement with LUMENSTREAM represents our first energy efficiency investment in the UK, a market we are keen to establish our presence in. We plan to deploy substantial capital in UK in line with our Energy Efficiency Trust’s investment strategy”.

Building a New Future for Arbour Housing

Building a New Future for Arbour Housing

Pulse PR has been working with Arbour Housing, one of Northern Ireland’s larger providers of social housing, as it reveals plans to develop 180 new homes across the province. This is in addition of 150 in the coming months and alongside this is rebranding with a new name and brand identity.  

The current developments are in Newcastle, Newry, Newtownabbey, Lurgan, and Lisburn and future developments in Omagh, Derry and Portadown will go some way to addressing the social housing challenge that currently exists in Northern Ireland. 

Arbour Housing’s ambitious growth over the last three years prompted the organisation to re-think its brand and name to reflect more accurately who it is rather than where it operates. Previously under the name of South Ulster Housing Association, Arbour Housing, was established more than 40 years ago and since its inception in 1978 is well-known for developing social housing in areas of high housing need.

Chief Executive of Arbour HousingKieran Matthews explains, “We have a very ambitious growth agenda for the Association and have recently appointed three new Board members to help with strategic guidance throughout this period. Our new identity is a major part of helping us to fulfil those growth plans. 

“When we started the process, we knew that we wanted something that expressed our vision of being more than a landlord. We also put our tenants’ voice at heart of what we do. That fed into discussions, workshops and research and in the end we all agreed on Arbour. We liked the natural element of shelter and protection it suggests. It feels like a very good fit for us.”

While the signage in its headquarters in Portadown will change, there will be very little change for tenants. There will be no impact on their rents or tenancy agreements, and Arbour is confident it will continue to provide exceptional service and support. 

Grainia Long, Chief Executive of The Housing Executive, who spoke at the launch, said; “Social housing providers are a key partner for us in addressing housing need across Northern Ireland. Arbour Housing have a strong track record of delivery and they have ambitious plans– I look forward to working with them in the future.”