A Certificate Award ceremony took place on Tuesday evening 30 September in Corick House, Clogher, for those involved in the Accredited Befriending Volunteer Programme.
The event, called ‘The Gift of Time- A New Beginning and Support for Individuals, Victims and Survivors‘, was organized by the Community Relations Council and was attended by 150 guests. Paul Clark, UTV presenter, as the special guest, presented 65 certificates to the befriending volunteers who come from across Northern Ireland
The Gift of Time reflects the precious gift that befrienders give when they spend time visiting those who have suffered most as a result of the troubles and often those who have felt forgotten.
Joan Clements from the Community Relations Council spoke about how for some people who have had a befriender visit them they have said it is the first time that anyone has asked “ What has it been like? And What is it like for you ? She said that research undertaken by the Community Relations Council has shown that “ There is a high level of isolation amongst those carers caring for victims of the troubles. Carers have said that “ there is a great value in the positive benefits of talking and sharing experiences with those in similar situations to themselves because they understood what we are going through.”
This outreach befriending service provides ongoing individual support for carers and takes into account wider issues whilst building trust which has been lacking for so long.
Speaking at the ceremony Alan Madill a befriender said “the way I help is by listening and encouraging, the fact that I understand helps to build trust and I set tasks for each visit to help to motivate.”
Iris Crawford another befriender said “ the befriending service bridges a gap in service provision and it acts as a link to other services. Many of our members would be reluctant to seek help that they need but with support and encouragement they will do so “
Paul Clark spoke about how befrienders make a difference. He 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.”