Praxis Care says thanks to volunteers during Volunteer Week

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PRAXIS Care, Northern Ireland’s largest charity, recently held their annual Volunteer Recognition Awards ceremony in the Glenavon House Hotel, Cookstown.

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 mental ill health.

The awards were part of Praxis Care’s marking of Volunteer Week June 1-7 and recognising 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 heath 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”.

On the night, awards were presented by TV and Radio presenter Pamela Ballantine to volunteers from different schemes throughout Northern Ireland who have completed 5, 10, 15 and 20 years of service with Praxis. Pamela quoted Praxis Mission Statement “Empowering adults and children with mental ill health, learning disability or acquired brain injury to enjoy everyday living, irrespective of the complexity of their needs” and how “this is actioned by the volunteers, making a difference right into the heart of our community, offering a lifeline to the most isolated and vulnerable”.

Ivor Faulkner and Peter Mooney spoke of their positive experiences within the Praxis Befriending Scheme and how it has changed and enriched their lives, building a lasting friendship. Peter presented Praxis Magherafelt with a beautiful piece of artwork in appreciation of the great work and benefits the volunteers have made to him and the community at large.

On receiving her award Angela said “Over my time with Praxis I have been matched with 3 ladies and we have remained good friends. I meet my current friend every fortnight and we go into town for shopping and something to eat, we also like to go on local walks. Volunteering has been of benefit to me as I find it helped me through difficult times in my own life. By listening to others you can relate to their problems and see how others take a different slant on things.”

Jo MacOscar, Magherafelt’s Befriending Co-ordinator said: “Volunteers come to our organization for different reasons e.g. recently retired, redundancy, for experience etc 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”.

If you want to find out more about Praxis Care, please contact Jo @ your local office 14 Sandy Grove, Magherafelt, BT45 6PU. Telephone 02879634488,