NLN’s Focus Programme Clonakilty now open for applications

A community-based mental health recovery and personal development training programme run in Clonakilty, The Focus Programme is now open for applications. Developed by NLN, in conjunction with the HSE, The Focus Programme follows a recovery model approach to overall wellbeing.

The Programme won the 2020 Aontas Award for the best programme in Ireland in the health and wellbeing category. The 12-month free course supports students to gain the confidence and skills to take control over their lives. 

People’s lives may have changed in so many ways over the last few months. People have found themselves: experiencing job loss; experiencing increased anxiety; feeling stressed; social isolation; excessively checking for symptoms; becoming irritable or; having trouble sleeping.

The Focus Mental Health Recovery Programme, with its 12 years’ experience serving the people in West Cork, is designed to support people with experience of these and other Mental Health issues. 

The Focus Mental Health Programme may be just what people need at a time like this to develop and try to maintain a new routine, work at rebuilding their community links, repair relationships broken by social isolation or learn and practice stress management techniques. Many people may have lost their jobs so it may be a time to consider new pathways to training or employment in a supportive person-centred environment.

People have different reasons for joining Focus. For some it might be gaining the confidence to go onto further education and employment, for others it may be about having a routine and sense of purpose in their day, for more it may be about reconnecting with the outside world, meeting new people and exploring new ideas.

Here is small sample of what’s on offer:

Activities – Arts and Crafts; Gardening; Cookery; Sea Swimming; Boat Building; Excursions

Supports – Access to Psychology Support; Individual Plan; Relaxation Techniques; Mindfulness; W.R.A.P (Certified)

Certified Modules – Personal Development; Self-Advocacy; Health and Fitness; Career Preparation; Computers and more.

Increasingly attention is being brought to the importance of our overall wellbeing, which incorporates both physical and mental health. Focus welcomes people who have undiagnosed conditions whether temporary or long-term, such as social anxiety, isolation, or just being generally overwhelmed from the pressures of everyday life.

The programme works from a person-centred prospective, which means working on an individual basis with each person. Group work is also incorporated under this model. Success rate is high with regard outcomes with many students progressing to further education and employment but this may not be the goal for everyone and that is fine, as people are supported to achieve whatever goals they have.  


“Leaving secondary school, everyone is excited to move on to college. Move out, make new friends and follow their career path. For me it was terrifying. Suffering from severe anxiety and depression, the idea of college filled me with dread, so potent it was difficult for me to function. That is when I heard about the NLN Focus programme. At first, I was cautious when I started, anxious and panicked about being in a new school like environment, but as the weeks progressed, I found it to be the best decision I ever made. I loved the small, intimate environment where tutors catered to each individual’s needs. Through this programme, I was able to learn about my mental health and find new ways of managing it. It became less debilitating. I learned a great deal not only about looking after my health, both physically and mentally, but I was also given the opportunity to learn from people who understood my mental illness and worked with me to help manage it on a daily basis, which allowed me to think about moving on to college without the overwhelming feeling of panic.

“Being 23, I felt I had missed out in some way, not going to college when I finished school. Had I not done the NLN programme, I would have definitely dropped out, because I was not prepared. But the tutors at NLN supported me greatly and worked with me, so I would be prepared if and when I decided to go to college. NLN has given me back my confidence. For those who are my age and are struggling with their mental health, I highly recommend the Focus programme. It changed my life for the better and it might change yours.”


“What I found fierce beneficial from the course was the routine and sense of purpose.

“While at the start, making a year’s commitment was pretty scary and quite daunting, I started anyway and took the chance to see where it would lead. Taking it day by day and making the effort really paid off plus there wasn’t any pressure put on us from the instructors who were very approachable, very kind and very available, helping me to look forward and guiding me to employment where my abilities and interests lie.

“The instructors were/are so helpful and kind making the course enjoyable, informative and really interesting. Because I was willing, that attitude paid off, learning lots about computers which I hate, however the teaching skills and patience (which instructors need a lot of, with my lack of computer skills) taught me loads.

“For the creative people like myself who like to work with their hands, there was plenty of arts and crafts for personal keepsakes and online exhibition for those who wanted to submit their work.

“Having access to a fantastic psychologist and rehabilitation officer, was a bonus that was gratefully appreciated and utilised by me.

“Going forward I do see a brighter future which I always believed I either didn’t deserve or couldn’t aspire to, combined with a deeper understanding of me, my illness, life around me and hopefully managing these better with the skills I have learned on this course.

“Lastly, the other students on the course, well suffice to say they were beautiful and kind and non-judgemental and FUNNY.

“Now the course is nearing the end, I can’t believe the year is almost up and boy did that fly.

“Showing up, being productive and constructive, has created a sense of achievement and accomplishment and has done wonders for my self worth.

“So it has been a most worthwhile and fulfilling course for me and would highly recommend it to anyone who is struggling to find their place.” P.C.

“I joined the Focus course last year when I was going through one of the hardest time of my life. I was beginning to give up hope, I had no confidence, I would not dare to think of sticking up for myself and I took everything everyone said to me seriously. I bottled it all up, until I couldn’t anymore. The Focus programme really benefitted me, it has made me believe in myself and given me the confidence I never thought I could have. I can now say I do not care what anyone thinks of me and I am finally able to stand up for myself. I would highly recommend it to anyone going through a tough time or needs that extra push. I promise you will not regret it. Coming here was one of the best decisions I have ever made.”


If you are interested in this course but have other commitments like regular appointments/volunteering/childcare and so on, you can still get in contact with the instructors, as they can work around these. Social welfare payments are not affected. Please contact for more information:

Elva on 087 2316919

Lee on 087 2447160

WCP Staff

WCP Staff Writer

Next Post

People power creating change

Mon Aug 9 , 2021
I live on the banks of the River Ilen and regularly watch Skibbereen Rowing Club training on the river, so I read with absolute delight how six of Ireland’s 2021 Olympic Rowers are from Skibbereen Rowing Club.  When Paul and Gary O’Donovan won Olympic silver medals in 2016, Skibbereen was […]