“Beauty on Our Doorstep” is an inspirational Belfast-based project that makes a real difference in people’s lives. It is run by local man John Mallon, well known for his campaigning work on suicide prevention and promoting better mental health – all through the lens of a camera.
Anyone visiting the Kennedy Shopping Centre in Belfast is drawn to John Mallon’s lively display of thoughtful, scenic images of Belfast and its surrounding areas of natural beauty. Local shoppers will often stop for a chat. Some freely admit that they do their grocery shopping there simply because John is there – stopping for a chat with John Mallon is part of their day.
Only yesterday I read a post from a woman on social media wondering why he wasn’t there on a particular day. “I wondered where you were all weekend. No smiling face in the Kennedy Centre or lovely photos to cheer up all the shoppers”. He had been away for the day, taking shots along a rather stormy Newcastle coastline just down the road from Belfast.
John’s relationship to his community is really quite unique. He has made no secret of his own personal struggle with poor mental health and how he came close to ending his life. His life is better now and he has made it his mission to help others avoid those pitfalls. He says he owes a lot to his love for photography and what he calls “the beauty on our doorstep” – the same beauty which has now become a permanent photographic exhibition and an important lifeline for so many others.
Lately a bad run of luck, accidents and theft have led to the loss of preciously needed photographic equipment. The project has no official funding and replacing lost gear is, of course, very expensive. John Mallon puts his life and soul into promoting better mental health through his talented camerawork and the project runs on a shoestring budget.
A small group of friends and admirers of this invaluable work are currently trying to raise enough through online fundraising to allow the project to continue. One of the organizers admits they had to twist his arm – several times and very hard.
The breakthrough came with the realization that the future of the project was at stake and that supporting and helping others was more important to him than his own personal and real discomfort at being made a fuss of. Anybody who has met John Mallon will tell you that he is a genuinely modest and unassuming man.
“Beauty on Our Doorstep” has been an inspiration to many people and John Mallon’s excellent work supporting positive mental health in our community must be allowed to continue. Please contribute to the online fundraiser if you can and encourage others to do so. Every penny helps https://www.gofundme.com/johnmallon
Eddie Whyte is originally from Belfast and now lives in Norway where he is an elected officer on the national executive of the country’s largest trade union.
Any additional funding raised over the target figure will be donated to the suicide awareness charity organization PIPS – the Public Initiative for Prevention of Suicide and Self Harm.