A Dromore group dedicated to helping those recovering from the pain of personal problems is ‘ecstatic’ after winning a special Pride of Place Award.
The Right Key, which uses music as a central strand of the recovery process, received the recognition in the competition which acknowledges the work communities are doing all over the island of Ireland.
Sheila Smyth, musical director and founder of the group, said: “We were delighted we had been nominated by the ABC council for the award, but ecstatic to actually win the special award and bring it back to Dromore.
“It was an all-Ireland event but the judges were moved by what’s happening here in our building in Princes Street.
“I’m so happy for the whole team.”
Sheila expressed thanks for the support the group has received from the council, and from Community Development Officer, Robert Stockley, Alderman Paul Rankin and Councillor Carol Black.
Coming from a musical background as teacher, musician and composer, but also social worker, Sheila married this with some personal experience to bring together The Right Key. The group now supports around 170 people a week, including addicts, ex-prisoners, and those with mental health issues.
“We use music, poetry and arts with compassion and support, and it’s a lovely mix for recovery,” she said.
“We work with people who are in any sort of recovery process - people recovering from addiction but also from things like divorce or any sort of hurt or brokenness, which really is most people at some point in their lives.
“There’s a lot of different projects that come together under The Right Key. In the Recovery Cafe there are about 12 to 15 volunteers and we also offer counselling services, work closely with a pharmacist, and offer spiritual care.
“It’s amazing to see the doors that open through our work, both locally and internationally. Our Voice of Recovery Choir have even sung in a London Prison - Hydebank Wood.
“Through our music, people are touched and often left in tears. We touch those who are struggling and challenge the stigmas - it opens people’s hearts to realise they can’t judge others.
“We all have reasons for ending up in the situations we find ourselves in - people drink for a reason, and we live in a fallen and broken world. We have some of the most amazing recovery stories.
“The day the judges came to see our work, it was all very natural and they were visibly moved - it was a lovely day.”
Alderman Paul Rankin said: “I warmly congratulate Sheila Smyth and her team at the Right Key Dromore, for their continued good work in the local area.
“The Special award is a recognition of their on-going positive work. I have had the privilege of knowing and working with Sheila in the past and wish her team well for the future.”