A new mobile unit which will transform how health and wellbeing services across an area of north Belfast has been launched by Eamon Holmes.

The Care Zone Mobile Unit will deliver a range services to people across the Oldpark area of Belfast, removing barriers to accessing important health care information. The new facility was unveiled at an event at the YEHA project in north Belfast on Saturday (12th March).

The mobile unit has been gifted to the Care Zone by Inspire, with the aim of supporting local projects improve mental and physical wellbeing, while Urban Villages has funded the branding for the bus, which will now be seen out and about in the local area.

Care Zone is a community project in Oldpark area of Belfast, which covers a population of over 18,000 people. Care Zone consists of a number of organisations and Community Champions, including Belfast Healthy Cities, Youth Education Health Advice and the Sacred Heart Parish, all of which work in partnership with the local community to host projects to consolidate relationships and find solutions to local issues.

As part of their engagement work with the community, they identified that there was a range of services which where not available locally, and that this created a barrier to access. To address the lack of services and difficulty accessing them, they sought a solution that would allow the delivery of services in a different way – which is how the mobile unit came about.

Speaking at the launch event, Jo Murphy from the Care Zone said “Access to health and wellbeing services is essential to positive outcomes from everyone in this area. But the lack of services, or difficulty accessing them when they are located further away. When we looked at how we could address this, the mobile unit quickly became the most obvious means of providing a range of services at the best value.

“The mobile unit will be a care hub, proving services and information on a range of health and well-being issues, and the potential it has to support people here is huge. As we emerge from Covid, it will be a way for people to re-engage with health related services, and it will be central to allowing the community champions locally, who are the real driving force behind positive change, to make a positive impact on people’s lives. We will be holding a stakeholder engagement programme to widen the range of services the mobile unit can provide, and on the type of project it can deliver in the future.”

Alex Bunting from Inspire said “When we were engaging with the Care Zone on their plans to tackle the issue of a lack of local services, we recognised that we had a resource which could be better utilised in the delivery of local services, particularly having seen how Covid has changed service delivery. In providing the mobile unit to the Care Zone we know it will be used to great effect to improve health outcomes. This partnership approach is something that Inspire values, and we look forward to working with Care Zone to fully realise the potential of the unit.”

Jo Murphy added “We would like to thank everyone who has been involved in making this a really, particularly Alex Bunting from Inspire, Urban Villages, and Eamon Holmes who has been a great supporter of the Care Zone. And of course our Care Zone Community Champions whose enthusiasm to find solutions gives us all the energy to keep going.”