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Posted on Friday 13 November 2015 by Shelter NI

Professor Paddy Gray & Professor Siobhan O'Neill are organising a walk from Derry to Belfast. They are planning to walk over 5 days from the 17th-21st December 2015 to highlight the links between housing issues & mental health.

Hike4HopeNI - The Project

Northern Ireland has some of the highest rates of mental health problems in the Western World, and around 300 people die by suicide every year here. We also have the highest rates of poverty in the UK and top the UK league table for house repossessions.The latest homelessness figures in the Northern Ireland Housing Bulletin has also revealed that there has been an increase of 16% in the number of households presenting as homeless to the Housing Executive, compared to the previous quarter.The Bulletin, which covers the period of January to March 2015, also shows a 17% increase in the number of homeless applicants being awarded the full duty homelessness status by the NIHE.

Inspired by the British Psychological Society's "Walk the talk" campaign and Cycle Against Suicide; Hike4Hope was conceived by Siobhan O'Neill, Professor of Mental Health Sciences, and Paddy Gray, Professor of Housing. They have both researched and written on these topics for over 15 years. They have both been concerned about the links between housing and mental health and this initiative comes as they embark on a new programme of research with Bronagh Delargy, on these topics in NI.

Christmas can be a difficult time for people who have experienced loss or who are in a personal or financial crisis. Hike4HopeNI aims to spread the word that "it's ok not to feel ok and it's absolutely ok to ask for help". They will raise money for charities working in housing, mental health and suicide prevention. The project also wants to raise awareness of the links between these topics and highlight the plight of people with housing and mental health problems as we approach the festive season.

Click here to register to walk with them, there are no fees, just register and come along. Many people have already agreed to walk with them on various parts of the route so you will not be alone.

The Route (17th-21st December 2015)

Day 1: Derry-Londonderry to Dungiven (20 miles)
Day 2: Dungiven to Maghera (13.5 miles)
Day 3: Maghera to Toome (11 miles)
Day 4: Toome to Antrim (11 miles)
Day 5: Antrim to Belfast (15 miles)

For more info visit

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