Praxis Care thanks local befriending volunteers

Geraldine Browne receiving her 15 year award for befriending.
Geraldine Browne receiving her 15 year award for befriending.

The befriending work of local volunteers of Praxis Care, Northern Ireland’s largest charity was recognised recently when the group held its annual Volunteer Recognition Awards ceremony in the Glenavon House Hotel, Cookstown. 

The Praxis Befriending Scheme operates throughout Northern Ireland and it matches volunteers with people who are suffering from mental ill health.

The awards were part of Praxis Care’s marking of Volunteer Week and recognised the fantastic contribution volunteers make to the work of Praxis Care.

The volunteers help to reduce the social isolation people can experience due to mental ill health and the associated stigma.

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 need for this type of service in our local communities”.

The awards were presented by TV and radio presenter, Pamela Ballantine who praised the volunteers for “making a difference right into the heart of our community, offering a lifeline to the most isolated and vulnerable”.

Phyllis Cassidy, Derry City Co-ordinator said “Volunteers come to our organisation for different reasons e.g. recently retired, their circumstance have changed and find they have time to spare, students volunteer for experience, but they all have the same desire to help someone else and meet new people, giving them a sense of achievement and satisfaction. Over the years our volunteers have supported many people in our community who are isolated and lonely due to their mental ill health. In turn, volunteers are given guidance, training and ongoing support by Praxis Care”.

If you feel you could give a few hours weekly to befriend someone lonely or isolated due to their mental ill health, please contact Phyllis to the local office 77 Rockmills Strand Road Derry City, telephone: 028 71308020, email: info.derry@praxiscare.org.uk for further information.