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Extern and Fairhill Shopping Centre announce new charity partnership to support young people in crisis

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Leading local charity Extern has joined with Fairhill Shopping Centre in Ballymena to launch a new partnership aimed at supporting young people in crisis across the area.

The exciting new Havens of Hope partnership will officially launch at Fairhill on Saturday, July 30th, where staff from the charity will be on hand to share more information about its work with young people, as well as to promote greater awareness of its mental health and wellbeing services across the wider Ballymena and Co Antrim areas.

Extern currently supports hundreds of young people through its five Safe Haven respite centres across the island of Ireland. These include Kinnahalla Youth Village, located in the Mourne Mountains in Co Down, which alone welcomes over 170 young people from the Northern Health Trust area every year. Children visiting Kinnahalla can avail of a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities aimed at allowing them to experience fun and friendship whilst also receiving support to cope with the challenges they may face at home.

The charity also offers a local Haven of Hope to those who may be facing problem drug and alcohol use through its Step2 and Low Threshold services. Based on Bridge Street in Ballymena, these offer community-based intervention services for adults and family members who are managing issues with addiction.

Throughout the month of August, Extern will also be urging locals to donate ‘Back to School’ items for young people through special ‘drop-off’ bins at Fairhill. Items include everyday essentials such as backpacks, pencil cases and notebooks, which many families may struggle to afford. 

Grace O’Neill, Fundraising Manager with Extern, said: “We are delighted to welcome Fairhill Shopping Centre as our new charity partner for the coming year. Fairhill is one of the most recognisable and respected retail names, not only in the Ballymena area but across Northern Ireland as a whole, and having the support of staff and shoppers within the centre will provide a massive boost to our fundraising and awareness activities.

“As one of the leading providers of family support and mental health and wellbeing services across Northern Ireland, we in Extern have seen a greater need among the public recently both in response to the Covid pandemic and the cost of living crisis. That’s why having the support of the Ballymena public through the funds they donate or raise for us is vital to ensuring we are able to continue our life-changing work and making a difference to a young person’s life.

“We look forward to meeting shoppers and visitors at the centre this/next Saturday where they can find out more about how they can help support our work. We would like to thank Fairhill once again for supporting us with this important work and we look forward to a very positive partnership in the year ahead!”

Natalie Jackson, Centre Manager at Fairhill Shopping Centre, said “We are delighted to support Extern as our charity partner. Extern is a well-known and highly respected charity that provides much needed support for young people and families in crisis across Northern Ireland. We are excited to help promote the great work Extern does and we are looking forward to the next 12 months; we have lots of fundraising and awareness events intended for our customers who we hope will get on board to help raise much needed funds for our Charity of the Year.”

To find out more about Extern’s projects in the Co Antrim area, and beyond, please visit, tel: 028 90840555, or follow us on social media @Extern_Charity

About Extern

Extern is the leading social justice charity operating across the island of Ireland, supporting around 20,000 people each year to change their lives. Operating for over 40 years, we believe another chance can change a life. Every day Extern works alongside children, young people, and families facing challenges to empower positive change and support family unity. We support people who are homeless or facing homelessness, those dealing with mental health issues and the impact of suicide, people experiencing problem drug and alcohol use and people living with problem gambling. We also support refugees, the Traveller community, and people who have been through the criminal justice system, to change their lives. As a charity, Extern strives for an inclusive and fair society; keeping children and their families together where possible; reducing offending and the impact of offending on victims and the community; that people have somewhere to live and that the people we work with are better equipped to live and make a contribution to their community. We are also the leading provider of placements for social work students in the voluntary sector in Northern Ireland. Visit for further information.