Local charities FightED and CAUSE have clubbed together to launch the inaugural ‘Matchplay for Mental Health’ golf tournament.

The unique fundraising event, aimed at raising vital funds for families across Northern Ireland impacted by someone living with a serious mental illness, will give keen golfers the opportunity to hit the course for a worthy cause and be in with a chance of winning a stay-and-play experience at the prestigious K Club in County Kildare.

FightED is a family run, Northern Ireland based eating disorders charity providing support and advice to parents, siblings and carers affected by eating disorders.

CAUSE is also a family-led, regional charity and provides practical and emotional support to relatives and carers of people with serious mental illnesses.

The synergies between the two charities is the real driving force behind ‘Matchplay for Mental Health’

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, fundraising events have been postponed leaving both charities without the funds they so heavily rely on. Yet demand for their services has undoubtedly increased during this lockdown period as individuals struggle with stress, anxiety and living in the ‘new normal’.

The tournament, in partnership with Competition Golf, will tee off from 24th August with players enjoying socially-distanced rounds of golf, at their chosen courses, throughout the charitable knockout competition.

Finals day will then take place at Malone Golf Club, one of the best parkland courses in Ireland, on 23rd October.

Ricky McLarnon, Board Member of FightED, explained the inspiration behind the charity golf tournament:

“We know the Covid-19 pandemic has increased the strain and pressure on families coping with eating disorders.

“Eating disorders have a higher mortality rate in the UK than any other mental illness, but early access to support for individuals and their families or carers can lead to an early and sustained recovery.

“That’s why we have teamed up with leading mental health charity CAUSE to launch a fun initiative that will help generate crucial funds to ensure that support system is available in Northern Ireland.”

Ricky, whose own sister Debbie suffered from eating disorders and acted as the catalyst to the McLarnon family establishing FightED in 2015, continued:

“At FightED, we offer a two-day ‘Maudsley Model’ course which equips family and friends with knowledge, skills and techniques that help them feel confident and empowered as carers and support systems for their loved one.

“Without government funding, we rely on donations to keep the charity going and that is why we’re calling on keen golfers to swing into action and hit the course for a good cause this summer.”

Valerie Sullivan, Chief Executive Officer of CAUSE, said:

“Like FightED, CAUSE is unique in that it is a peer-led charity, offering support and guidance to families and carers of people in the region affected by serious mental illness.

“There is still very much a stigma around mental health in Northern Ireland with many people struggling to address or talk openly about mental illnesses such as bipolar, eating disorders and schizophrenia.

“At CAUSE, we do our best to change that by educating relatives and carers, so they feel better equipped and more comfortable in supporting their loved one and their complex needs.

Valerie called upon the public to get behind ‘Matchplay for Mental Health’:

“Our services are in high demand, maybe more so now than ever before as the country emerges from lockdown.

“By signing up to our fundraiser you will not only get to experience a fun, sociable event with fantastic prizes, but you will also help change the lives of hundreds of families across Northern Ireland.”

To register for the inaugural ‘Matchplay for Mental Health’ golf tournament and to view full terms and conditions, visit cause.competitiongolf.com/welcome. Registration costs £25 per player with top prizes up for grabs for both the competition winner and the highest fundraiser.