Health and Wellbeing

Loneliness Network Listing

Loneliness affects people of all ages and backgrounds in Northern Ireland. A recent study shows that:

  • one in five people feel lonely always or often;
  • chronic loneliness affects one in 20 people;
  • 71% of people are worried about someone they know being lonely during the winter months because of the Covid-19 restrictions; and
  • 88% of people say loneliness has become a bigger problem since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Check out our Chatty Benches and Chatty Cafés...

While anyone can be affected by loneliness, some groups are more at risk such as teenagers, young adults, single parents, people with a disability and older people.

Many people often find it difficult to ask for help and support, or struggle with finding connections.

Here are some ways to manage loneliness, connect with others or simply change our own outlook and behaviours.

How I can help myself

  • Talk to your friends and family about how you are feeling.
  • Distract yourself with activities and hobbies you enjoy.
  • Say hello to people – at school, college, university, work, in the shop or on the bus – perhaps open up a conversation.
  • If you feel able to and taking in to consideration Covid restrictions, join a social club, music or drama group, or a sports team.
  • Remember that what you see on social media is not always the truth.
  • Find out if there are local organisations who can provide additional support.
  • You’ll be familiar with your ‘lonely moments’. 
    Plan ahead and do something that positively engages you.
    Read, do some sport, practise self-care, call a friend, watch a movie.

How I can help others

  • Check in regularly with older friends, family, and neighbours (without putting your health or theirs at risk) especially to those with no access to the internet.
  • Offer to help with shopping, especially assisting people who may be more vulnerable and cannot use the internet to shop online.
  • Technology can’t replace communicating in person but it can be useful to stay in touch, for instance, via Facetime and Zoom.
  • Be kind and offer support and advice where you can - in these difficult times, many people are struggling.
  • Be open to changing plans at short notice or doing something else to suit the older person or person with a disability who you want to helps. 
    Even with the best intentions, it is easy to say “Oh we’ll do another day” and then forget to get back to them again. 

Who we are

The Loneliness Network in Mid and East Antrim was launched in 2019 to create coordinated action, raise awareness, share best practice and encourage learning and prevention in the borough.

The network brings together Mid and East Antrim Borough Council and the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, and other statutory, voluntary and community groups.

If you or someone you know would benefit from the support from one of the member organisations of the Loneliness Network, please get in touch with one of our organisations.

Chatty Benches

The ‘Chatty Benches’ initiative is one of many that aim to engage people in activities to minimise their sense of isolation.

The ethos behind it is to encourage anyone who wants to engage in conversation with someone to sit down on the bench and just have a chat.

In Mid and East Antrim the ‘Chatty Benches’ are brightly painted yellow and have a plaque with a unique QR code linking users to useful information on the Loneliness Network.

To date benches have been launched in:

  • Shaftesbury park in Carrickfergus
  • Town Park in Larne
  • Between Wellington street and Church Street in Ballymena 
  • Peoples Park , Ballymena
  • Maine Riverside Walk, Cullybackey
  • Portglenone Marina
  • Whitehead Railway Garden – on corner of Edward Rd and Victoria Ave
  • Ballykeel, Ballymena
  • Larne Promenade
  • Ahoghill Park
  • Sentry Hill, Ballymena
  • Sunnylands Community Garden, at Sunnylands Community Centre
  • Ballykeel Memorial Community Garden, Ballymena
  • Harryville Motte, Ballymena
  • Ballystrudder Community Garden, Islandmagee
  • Buttermilk Bridge Riverside Path, Broughshane
  • Newtown-crommelin – Community garden, Old Cushendun road, Newtown-cromelin
  • Martinstown Chatty bench-  Lisnamanagh Park, Martinstown, Ballymena BT43 6QU

Chatty Cafes

The idea of a Chatty Café is to encourage venues to designate a table and make it available as a ‘chatty table’ where customers can sit if they are happy to talk to other customers.

The Chatty café scheme recognises the positive impact a conversation can have on your health and wellbeing. 

A short conversation with another person can really brighten your day. 

It is hoped the Chatty Café scheme will get people talking and meeting new people. 

To date Chatty Cafes have been launched in:

  • Blessings Coffee Shop, Cullybackey
  • The Salvation Army, Main Street, Larne
  • The Prom Café, Larne Leisure Centre
  • Barbara Anns Home Bakery, Larne
  • The Lunch Box, AEL, Larne
  • The Clocktower Café, Carrickfergus
  • Delaceys Bakery, Carrickfergus
  • Ballykeel 1, Moving Forward Breakfast Club, Ballymena
  • The Oasis, Larne Elim Pentecostal Church
  • Digsy's Diner, 1 Knockan Road, Broughshane
  • Con Magee GAC, Glenravel

In order to support start-up of new Chatty Cafes, Mid and East Antrim Loneliness Network have developed a Chatty Café Toolkit.

The Toolkit aims to provide practical information and advice to anyone in the Borough wishing to take part in the Chatty Café Scheme. 

We hope it will be a useful tool to help provide consistency and support to Chatty cafes.

Loneliness Champions

A Loneliness Champion is someone who uses their knowledge, skills and experience along with training to positively impact the lives of others and help reduce loneliness and isolation within the Mid and East Antrim area.

Please note: you must be a member of Mid and East Antrim Loneliness Network to become a Loneliness Champion

They do this by:

  • Developing and building relationships within the local community
  • Raising awareness about loneliness  and social isolation
  • Help reduce the stigma of loneliness by talking and discussing loneliness openly
  • Sharing information about relevant opportunities for people to engage
  • Providing key information, advice, support  and encouragement to colleagues within the voluntary, community and  statutory sectors
  • Promoting key initiatives within Mid and East Antrim including Chatty Benches, Chatty Cafes, Chatty Walks and the Kindness Postbox

Your Qualities

  • Being an enthusiastic and motivated member of the Mid and East Loneliness Network, supporting it’s work and accessing all relevant opportunities  to enhance their role
  • Utilizes networking opportunities to explain the role and function of Mid  and East Loneliness Network and promotion of same
  • Regularly attends Network meetings
  • Goes the ‘extra mile’ to achieve a  positive outcome

Benefits to You

  • Becoming a more active member of the Mid and East Antrim Loneliness Network
  • Gain knowledge and understanding of the issue of loneliness in Larne, Carrickfergus and Ballymena
  • Become a catalyst for change in local vulnerable people’s lives
  • Boost your self-esteem and sense  of purpose
  • Improve your CV and volunteering skills
  • Benefit from the health benefits of being an active member of your community

You will receive:

  • A certificate presented to you by the Chairperson of Mid and East Antrim Loneliness Network
  • A badge identifying you as a  Loneliness Champion
  • Regular updates of issues in your local community relating to loneliness, initiatives being rolled out and how you can help

Please note: you must be a member of Mid and East Antrim Loneliness Network to become a Loneliness Champion

Borough Wide Organisations

Name of Organisation

What we do/Who we help

Contact Details

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council


Local government council for the area of Mid and East Antrim. 

Representatives from Parks and Open Spaces and Community Planning and Development Departments sit on the Network.


Police Service of Northern Ireland

Police force that serves Northern Ireland.  Representatives from Neighbourhood Police and the MEA Support Hub sit on the Network.

T: 028 9065 0222

Volunteer Now

Promotes and supports individuals and volunteer involved organisations across N.I. Volunteering can combat loneliness by connecting people and improving their physical and mental well-being.

Wenda Gray - Volunteering Support Officer

T: 07850 851 811

Campaign to End Loneliness

The Campaign to End Loneliness believe that people of all ages need connections that matter.

We share research, evidence and knowledge with thousands of other organisations and the public to make a difference to older people’s lives.

They inspire everyone to connect and bring communities together across the UK.


Libraries NI

Runs all public libraries in Northern Ireland.

T: 0345 450 4580

Women’s Aid Antrim, Ballymena, Carrick, Larne and Newtownabbey (ABCLN)

Support for women and children experiencing domestic abuse.

Women’s Aid ABCLN
T: 028 2563 2136

Mid and East Antrim Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP)

Works to help make communities safer and ensure that the voices of local people are heard on policing and community safety issues.

The aim is to engage and empower communities and develop solutions in partnership to tackle crime, fear of crime and anti-social behaviour


Impact Network NI

Impact Network NI:

  • provides community development support;
  • assists communities to improve Health and Wellbeing, Mental Health and Health Inequalities;
  • is commited to suicide prevention and addressing the determinants of suicide.




Northern Area Community Network(NACN)

Offers a community development service to member groups, focusing on the practice of networking to allow communities themselves to share knowledge and experience.

T: 028 2177 2100


Network Personnel - Community Family Support Programme


Training, education and employment programme and can help source the relevant progression.

Working with individuals aged 16-65 helping to increase social inclusion, family relationships and engaging with specialist support by providing support for health and social needs.


T: 07776 534 784

Mid and East Antrim Age well Partnership (MEAAP)

A local inter-agency based partnership aimed at improving the lives of older people aged 60 years and over in the Ballymena, Larne and Carrickfergus areas


Simon Community

Simon Community NI is Northern Ireland's leading homeless charity. We work without prejudice to support people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.


Mae Murray Foundation

We are a membership organisation, offering support to families who are excluded due to disability, medical condition or age.

T: 0300 600 1166


Clanmill Housing

Clanmil Housing Association, Northern Whig House, 3 Waring Street, Belfast, BT1 2DX


We are a Housing Association providing Housing in excess of 5000 units (social housing) throughout the whole province.  We provide housing for specific groups, eg, over 55’s (Independent Living Schemes & Category 1), as well as supported housing, care homes and General Needs Housing.

T: 028 9087 6000 (Head Office)
Local Scheme Offices:
T: 028 2587 8560 (Gloonan House Ahoghill),
T: 028 2564 6882 (Moatview Court Ballymena) or
T: 028 2563 1059 (Slemish Court Ballymena).

NIDACT- Northern Connections Service

Deliver awareness sessions on various Drugs and Alcohol related topics including Dry January and Feel Good February, RAPID, and Alcohol Awareness week.
Support community response to the signs of drugs and alcohol misuse through Connectors and Responders training.
Respond to specific drug and/or alcohol incidents or issues locally.


W: Drugs & Alcohol NI website


Ballymena Based Organisations

Good morning Ballymena - 23 William Street Ballymena BT43 6AW

Opening times: Monday - Friday post-covid 8.30am - 12.30pm

A free telephone befriending, support and alert service for older people and vulnerable adults (18+) in the Ballymena.

T: 028 2564 0720
M: 07979 653 988

Ballymena South Community Cluster

Supports several community groups in Ballee, Ballykeel and Harryville all of which run community activities and projects that address social isolation and loneliness.


T: 028 2563 1350
M: 07934 849 934


Carrickfergus Based Organisations

Good Morning Carrickfergus

Opening times: Monday - Friday post covid 8.30am - 12.30pm

A free telephone befriending, support and alert service for older people and vulnerable adults (18+) in the Carrick area.

T: 028 9332 6000
M: 07734 906 242

Carrickfergus YMCA

Cross-denominational youth organisation committed to Christian social action in the local community.

T: 028 9335 5890

Carrickfergus Junior Gateway

Voluntary charity providing a social space for young people with learning disabilities who are often isolated within society as well as their parents and carers who due to coping with the needs of their children are also isolated. 



Larne Based Organisations

Good Morning Larne

Opening times: Monday - Friday post covid 8.30am - 12.30pm

A free telephone befriending, support and alert service for older people and vulnerable adults (18+) in the Larne area.

T: 028 2827 3362

Redeeming Our Communities (ROC) Northern Ireland  - ROC Larne

Provides mentoring support to families finding the ongoing Covid-19 crisis difficult. Mentors will provide support to the principal care giver in a family for 10 weeks via phone or video call. 

Keeva Watson
T: 028 9035 1020

Larne Wellbeing Hub

Provides mental health support for those aged 4 years and up.  Online group support for those who have been experiencing the effects of isolation and loneliness.  One to one counselling, family support, mentoring and workshops.

T: 028 2827 3335

Larne Community Development project (LCDP)

Community development network, which provides support, advice and assistance to local community / voluntary groups within Larne area.