BASKETBALL Ireland is pleased to announce a charity partnership with AWARE, the depression charity for Northern Ireland, supporting those affected by depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder.
AWARE is Basketball Ireland’s second charity partnership, having also linked up with the youth mental health charity Jigsaw.
As part of the partnership Basketball Ireland will aid fundraising for AWARE, while a series of initiatives are planned as part of the collaboration, to help players, coaches, schools, clubs and international sides. 
Helping promote the partnership will be four ambassadors – Ireland internationals and Belfast Star duo Conor and Aidan Quinn, Ireland 3x3 international and Ulster University player Aoife Callaghan, along with Basketball Northern Ireland board member, Marc Mulholland.
Speaking at the launch, Marc Mulholland, said: “I am delighted to be supporting AWARE along with Basketball Ireland.
“This is a fantastic partnership and a very important one especially during the pandemic we find ourselves in.
“We never truly know the struggles that people are facing, and it is important that we continue to be kind to one another.
“Help is often closer than you think, so it is important for our community to know what resources are available to them and that we continue to speak to each other.”
Ulster University’s Aoife O’Callaghan added: “I’m looking forward to being involved in this partnership and learning more about AWARE and the work that they do. It is important for us, as players, to encourage open conversations within our family, team and friendships.”

Aoife Callaghan

Aoife Callaghan

Twin brothers Conor and Aidan Quinn are pleased to be playing their part. Conor Quinn said: “The work that AWARE do is invaluable and reaches all corners of society. It’s an honour to be involved with the charity and help promote the excellent work that they do.”
Aidan Quinn added: “I was really happy when I heard that Basketball Ireland were joining forces with AWARE and I wanted to play some part in spreading the word of the important role that AWARE play in life here.
“We all have our ups and downs, but it is the people that we surround ourselves with which is important. I am looking forward to supporting the various campaigns and seeing workshops that will become available to the basketball community.”
AWARE has an established network of support groups in rural and urban areas, which are run by trained volunteers.
AWARE’s vision is a future where everyone can talk about their mental health openly, access services appropriate to their needs and develop the skills and knowledge to maintain positive mental health.  
The focus of AWARE’s work is to educate and provide support to people living with or affected by depression.
AWARE now have an online support group, online email service, support helpline and they have now moved their Education and Training programmes online.
AWARE CEO Karen Collins said: “We are delighted that Basketball Ireland have chosen to partner with AWARE.
“We look forward to working in partnership to support players, coaches, ambassadors and staff through various fundraising events and programmes.
“The emergence of Covid-19 has put a strain on the mental health of many in our communities and we will strive to continue to be a source of support for those who need it.
“As a charity, the funds that Basketball Ireland raise throughout the partnership will be vitally important, enabling us to continue to deliver and expand our services in schools, communities and workplaces.”

Marc Mulholland

Marc Mulholland

Bernard O’Byrne, CEO of Basketball Ireland, added: “AWARE’s work has impressed us and we want to partner with them effectively.
“We now have two partnerships in place with AWARE and Jigsaw and we are looking forward to working with them both and doing our best to create awareness of the importance of mental health.”