Over 100 volunteers trained to support victims and survivors of the Troubles received special certificates today and a ‘Gift of Time’ badge, in recognition of their work. The ‘Gift of Time’ ceremony, organised by the Community Relations Council (CRC), took place on Friday 26 November at the Silver Birches Hotel in Omagh.
The certificate awards were given to Befrienders , who spend time visiting those who have suffered most as a result of the Troubles. Special training in befriending has been provided since 2006, through the Community Relations Council, to individuals within victim support groups enabling them to provide support to the bereaved and injured of the Troubles, widows, parents, children, colleagues, friends and neighbours.
Joan Clements, CRC Victim Support Officer, said:
‘There is a high level of isolation among those caring for victims of the Troubles, and many carers are close relatives. The befriending training provides them with additional support in their volunteer activity. The work the Befrienders are delivering is excellent and the ‘Gift of Time’ ceremony is an important recognition of their contribution to healing the hurt of the Troubles.’
Bertha McDougal, one of the Victims Commissioners and Paul Clark, UTV presenter, were guest speakers at the ceremony
Bertha McDougal said:
“ Many victims and survivors feel abandoned, forgotten and isolated. Befriending supports individuals at the local level and the building of trust between individuals and the Befriender is an essential component of this service and should not be underestimated. A Befriender is a volunteer who gives freely of their time to train and undertake this work and I would like to acknowledge how much they are contributing to society by ensuring that those individuals, who may be amongst the most vulnerable and have suffered the most in the conflict, are not forgotten. “
Paul Clarke said:
“The people who make the greatest difference in our lives are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money or the most awards. They are the ones who care about us and others. They are people like you.”
The Befriending Scheme has provided support to hundreds of victims, survivors and carers. It is provided by a multitude of committed volunteers and has been at the forefront of grass-roots self help group and community action.
For further information contact Ray Mullan, Community Relations Council