Praxis Care, Northern Ireland’s largest charity, held their annual Volunteer Befriending Awards ceremony recently in the Glenavon House Hotel, Cookstown to coincide with World Mental Health Day 2009.
The guest speaker on the night was local writer, actor and broadcaster Tim McGarry (‘Da’ in Give my Head Peace).
‘The Praxis Befriending Scheme operates throughout Northern Ireland and Isle of Man – current schemes are located in Belfast, Derry City, North Down and Ards, Antrim, Magherafelt, Cookstown, Lurgan and Isle of Man. The scheme matches volunteers with people who are suffering from and or in danger of developing mental ill health.
The volunteers help to reduce the social isolation people can experience due to mental ill heath and the associated stigma.
The volunteers and service users can meet for a coffee and a chat, go shopping, take a walk or do some sporting activity, watch a movie or indeed anything that they would enjoy doing together.
Speaking at the awards Andy Mayhew Director of Care at Praxis Care said
“Praxis Care operates a volunteer befriending scheme with over 160 matched friendships, some of which have lasted 5, 10 15 and even 20 years!
Volunteer befrienders can help to reduce the risk of suicide, help to minimise the feeling of isolation, reduce pressure on families, and help to alleviate poor health and the risk of hospital admission.
The scheme offers a great opportunity for volunteers to get involved in the work of Praxis Care as well as offering valuable support for people affected by mental illness.
The Awards ceremony is about giving recognition to the valuable support given by our volunteers as well as highlighting the scheme”.
Speaking at the awards ceremony Tim McGarry said
“Although family and friends provide support, the benefit of the volunteer is the offer of a non-judgmental and more objective friendship
I would like to pay special tribute to the work done by the Volunteer Befrienders and never underestimate the impact they have on the lives of the people that they befriend”
Speaking on receiving her 20 year Award Barbara McCarron said:
“I am delighted to be accepting this award for the volunteering I have undertaken with Praxis Care over the last 20 years. It has been a pleasure to undertake this volunteering, as I have found the experience very rewarding.”
On the night, awards were presented to volunteers from different schemes throughout Northern Ireland who have completed five, 10, 15 and 20 years of service with Praxis Care Befriending.
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