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.
If you want to know more about how you can become involved in the Praxis Care Befriending Scheme contact: Praxis Care 25 / 31 Lisburn Road Belfast BT9 7AA 028 90 234 555.
For further information contact or organise interview with volunteers or service users:
Paul Collins, Praxis Care, Assistant Director
Tel: mob 07918 720554 Praxis Care 02890 234555
Notes to editors
Praxis Care, headquartered in Belfast is Northern Ireland’s largest charity, employing over 1,000 staff at locations in Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, England and the Isle of Man. Praxis provides care to adults and children with a learning disability, mental ill health, acquired brain injury and dementia.
Praxis services are regarded as good examples of best practice within the healthcare sector. Praxis partners and co-operates with Health Trusts throughout the UK and Isle of Man and HSE in Republic of Ireland.