Star award winners from the Mas project holding their award.

International Women’s Day 2024 was a day for the Mas!  We are delighted to have won the Aontas award for Special Recognition for an Initiative Supporting Shared Island and Peace Building Activities.  The judging day and awards ceremony in Croke Park were attended by myself Clare Anderson, Mas Project coordinator, Lynette Glen, Mas worker in Atlas centre Lisburn, Gillian McCarroll, Health coordinator and Mas lead in Ballybeen Women’s Centre and Jenna Peacock, Mas Group Leader in Ballybeen Women’s Centre.  This award is an acknowledgment of the powerful work of the women on the project in supporting each others well-being, campaigning and sharing their lived experience to improve services in the future and break the stigma in maternal mental health.

The award acknowledges the support and role of the women’s centres in delivering the Mas project and supporting women across communities.  The Mas project has many layers of adult learning, learning for well-being delivered in the peer support sessions where women have engaged in art, mindfulness, life- coaching sessions to support their own emotional wellbeing.  Mas is located in the holistic environment of the women’s centre with progression routes to other supportive well-being initiatives and adult learning courses.  In addition, WRDA deliver a group leader programme including a Maternal Advocacy & Support OCN Level 3 that provides women with the opportunity to gain training and experience in assisting in the delivery of the peer support groups.  We believe that the project delivers societal and community learning, educating wider communities and influencing health leaders and politicians on the lived experience of women, reducing and breaking stigma in maternal mental health.  Our work is developing as we are currently in the process of supporting other organisations in rural communities to set up maternal mental health peer support groups and become part of the wider Mas network. We are also excited that the new Young Mums Mas groups will also soon be starting in Ballybeen and Atlas Women’s Centre and we welcome new Young Mums Mas staff member Jennifer Wright to WRDA.

Receiving this wonderful award is recognition of the work and commitment of women across the project who all share in the pride of the Mas project. A sincere thank- you to everyone involved in Mas, women who attend the project, group leaders, campaigners, steering group, Kellie Turtle for developing the original model and the Mas pilot, mas staff and wider women’s centres.   The connection felt within the groups and throughout the project is powerful and is a testament to the dedication of all involved to break the stigma and continue our work in maternal mental health and let everyone know that Mas matter!