Portadown Wellness Centre case study

7 Apr 2021 Donna Semple    Last updated: 12 Apr 2021

Alan McDowell is a board member of Portadown Wellness Centre, which received support from the governance team.  He gave his view on his experiences of working with NICVA.

I started by asking how things are currently, and then asked about the support they needed and received, and how it helped the organisation.

What is the current situation with the organisation?

Alan stated: “We are flat out.  We have a young team of ten people aged 18 to 25 who have or are experiencing a mental illness and tasked them with designing and building a garden centre – this will launch this month.  We have launched TMS [Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation] clinics – the first in Ireland which has created interest from health care professionals.”  They are also continuing with the counselling and the therapeutic classes/activities.

What support did you need from NICVA?

Alan advised that: “We needed guidance on writing up a professional constitution which would help us develop and expand and have the proper constitution and governance in place.  We also needed general support and governance training.”

What support did you receive from NICVA?

NICVA drafted the organisation’s constitution and provided governance training to the board, as well as general support through telephone calls and meetings.

How did the training and support help the organisation?

Alan said that because of the support from NICVA: “We have been able to expand our operations and it has allowed us to bring in more professionals to the organisation.  The general support and guidance we received was valuable.  The governance training was excellent as it provided us the stability and platform to further develop.

All of this has given us a proper foundation and platform to build on.  If we hadn’t had that, we wouldn’t have had as solid a background to have developed from.  It gave us a platform and professionalism, transparency and good governance.”

Alan also stated that it allowed them to attract professional people such as advisor ‘x’, who is an expert in TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation).  “Without us having such a strong organisation, it is unlikely that she would have partnered with us”.  And volunteer ‘y’, who previously had mental health issues and wanted to make a contribution to other people currently suffering mental illness.  “We would not have attracted the calibre of him without having a professional constitution and strong governance”.

Alan said: “Donna’s help throughout the whole process was incredibly valuable to the organisation – she is easy to work with plus very informative.”

Relationship with NICVA

Alan spoke of the organisation’s relationship with NICVA:

“Our relationship with NICVA is very important.  We learn from the regular updates.  It keeps us abreast of what is happening in government.  The updates are very beneficial.  We do not have to trawl through and find the information ourselves, NICVA does the work for us.

NICVA is an excellent organisation to help small organisations like us who are expanding.  We are expanding by demand – not because we want to expand and be bigger, but because it is necessary.  Our organisation knows a mental health pandemic is under the surface.  It is not getting the publicity now, but will come out after.”

Looking to the future

Alan said: “We are the first organisation in Ireland to provide a holistic service – TMS, talking therapy (counselling), and practical therapeutic activity.  This puts us under the spotlight from health care professionals.”

He also referred to the need for the organisation to keep getting guidance from NICVA as they further expand.  “None of the board are from the voluntary sector and so we will continue to need that guidance from NICVA in the future.  This is new territory for the board who, without exception, all come from the private sector.”


Find out more about Portadown Wellness Centre by visiting their website or follow them on Facebook or Instagram.


donna.semple@nicva.org's picture
by Donna Semple

Governance and Charity Advice Officer

[email protected]

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