Northern Ireland news

Co Antrim mental health nurse to take on indoor cycling challenge to raise funds for support services

Christy McLaughlin, a community mental health nurse from Ballymoney, is to take on a 12-hour indoor cycling challenge tomorrow in a bid to raise funds for Aware, the depression charity for Northern Ireland
Marie Louise McConville

A Co Antrim mental health nurse is to undertake a mammoth indoor cycling challenge tomorrow n a bid to raise funds for support services during the lock-down.

Christy McLaughlin, who is from Ballymoney but works in Antrim town, has been on lockdown since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic due to his arthritis as his medication suppresses his immune system.

As a result, the 27-year-old has not been able to work and has spent the last number of weeks at home self-isolating.

An avid cyclist, who is also a triathlete, the community mental health nurse has been missing his active lifestyle and in a bid to get back in the saddle has decided to undertake a 12-hour indoor cycling challenge for Aware, the depression charity for Northern Ireland.

The charity is encouraging people to get involved in events at home as part of a virtual fundraising campaign.

Virtual bingo nights, Bake Offs, quizzes and mindfulness sessions have already been lined up as part of the HomeandAware campaign.

The funds raised will help the charity run many of its services online during the lock-down including through Skype, as well as through a support line and a support mail service.

Mr McLaughlin will begin his 12-hour challenge tomorrow, taking to his indoor `turbo' bike at 6am.

He will be monitored by his fiancee, Lizanne who will ensure he doesn't leave the saddle and has enough water to power him on.

Mr McLaughlin told The Irish News he is "looking forward to getting started" and has been preparing for the challenge by "resting".

"I think being a mental health nurse, this is quite close to my heart," he said.

"There are so many people feeling isolated and it is difficult and being a mental health nurse in the community, a lot of people rely on contact from me. Clients aren't getting the service they are used to. It is quite an adjustment. I know mental health is going to be affected. It's been a big change, even my mental health has been affected".

The 27-year-old said he intended to keep his brain occupied during the challenge by posting the challenge on Facebook Live and by also watching Netflix through a tablet which attaches to his bike.

"I am always looking to do something and being a mental health nurse, I wanted to do something, especially now," he said.

"My fiancee Lizanne, she is gong to be passing the water bottles and she will be the lifeline I need."

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