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It Gets Better: Jonathan Fernandez

Jonathan Fernandez of VH1's 'Love & Hip Hop: New York'

VH1 & It Gets Better

VH1 is at the forefront of groundbreaking LGBTQ storytelling across its diverse array of programming including RuPaul’s Drag Race, Love & Hip Hop and Beauty Bar, and this year the network is taking part in Pride Month in a big way this year through a partnership with the “It Gets Better Project.” Across Pride Month VH1 will roll out videos featuring talent offering messages of support and solidarity to the LGBTQ community.

Jonathan Fernandez from ‘Love & Hip Hop: New York’ shares his It Gets Better message with LGBTQ youth for Pride.


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Half a Million Second Doses Achieved

Northern Ireland’s vaccination programme has chalked up another landmark. It has been confirmed that the number of people to have received both doses of their vaccine has passed the half million mark.

Another major landmark is also imminent, with close to one million first doses of vaccines being administered in Northern Ireland. 

This week has also seen the launch of a public information campaign to help ensure vaccine take-up remains strong.

Health Minister Robin Swann said: “It is hugely encouraging to see so many people already benefitting from the longer and stronger protection provided by second doses.

“It is vital that people keep coming forward for their first and second doses when their turn comes.”

The Minister added: “We all owe a great debt of gratitude to everyone involved in the vaccination programme.

“The availability of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines has played a huge role in our battle against COVID-19.

“While we must never be complacent about the virus, we can also celebrate the progress we are making.”

Getting the second vaccine dose is very important because it maximises the level of protection against COVID-19.

* Anyone of any age who has received an AstraZeneca first dose should proceed with their second dose of AstraZeneca. That’s unless they have had clinical advice not to do so.

The JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) has made clear there have been no safety concerns identified for associated blood clots and low platelet count with the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

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Fund Will Provide Vital Support to Mental Health Charities

Health Minister Robin Swann with Síofra Healy, Director of Philanthropy at the Foundation.

Health Minister Robin Swann has given further details of a £10million mental health fund providing support to mental health charities.

The grant scheme, entitled the Mental Health Support Fund, will be administered and managed by Community Foundation NI, and will be open to community and voluntary sector organisations with charitable purposes offering services for people with mental ill health throughout Northern Ireland.

Mental health charities and groups will be invited to submit proposals on key themes, all which are linked to improving the mental health and emotional wellbeing of the population. These include talking therapies, interventions which reduce pressures on mental health acute in-patient facilities for adults and children, advocacy and peer support work, and capacity building and sustainability in the delivery of mental health interventions and projects.

These interventions are key supports to tackling mental ill health as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and will strengthen the person centred care approach in the new 10 year Mental Health Strategy.

Ensure Those Who Need Help, Get Help

In launching the scheme, Health Minister Robin Swann said: “I remain committed to supporting everyone’s mental health and wellbeing and doing everything possible to help ensure that those who need help, get help.  I am incredibly conscious of the impact the pandemic has had on people’s mental health and wellbeing. 

“Our local charity sector provides important and vital mental health support services to many in our communities.  It is important that those services are maintained, particularly during these challenging times. 

“The new Mental Health Support Fund will equip and enable these charities in providing a wide range of support services for people with mental ill health and help to ensure that those who need to can continue to access mental health support services in the community.”

The Mental Health Support Fund

The allocation has been funded from Covid emergency monies made available to the Department of Health. The Mental Health Support Fund is expected to formally open within the next few months and will be accessible through the Community Foundation website.

Commenting on the Fund, Síofra Healy, Director of Philanthropy at the Foundation said: “Through our work and grant giving in Northern Ireland we are seeing huge need and increased demand for funding of mental health services provided by charities and community groups. Communities are telling us that as a result of the pandemic, the issues have been exacerbated and it is vital that we act now.

“We’re pleased that the department is prioritising this issue and including capacity support for the charities that continue to deliver these services and are often the backbone of support for people who need mental health support. We will work with charities large and small within our community and across NI to ensure this funding reaches and addresses the needs identified.”

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