Get On Board The Volunteering Initiative

PRIME Minister David Cameron’s policy of promoting the ‘Big Society’ has opened up a new openness for partnerships between Churches and public service organisations. In recognising this policy, the South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust and the Presbyterian Board of Social Witness have created a partnership to promote the role of volunteering within the Trust.

The role of volunteers within the Trust has become ever more important as they can provide something extra to patients, clients and their families that can help them feel safe and supported. Volunteers also enhance the quality of service provided to patients and service users while complimenting the work of paid staff.

This partnership seeks to bring together social care professionals who understand the need in the local community, and who can support volunteers, with Presbyterian members who are prepared to help some of the most vulnerable people in their communities by volunteering their most valuable asset – their time. Through this, we hope that the wellbeing of patients and clients (and volunteers) improves as volunteers undertake the broad range of roles that are available throughout the Trust. These include:

*  Tutor for children in residential care

*  Foster Carers [caption id="attachment_23926" align="alignright" width="400" caption="All aboard ! Colm McKenna, Chairman of the South Eastern HSC Trust, Lindsay Conway, Director of the Board of Social Witness, Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Jason White, Assistant Director of Health & Wellbeing, South Eastern HSC Trust), and Rev Bobby Liddle, Convenor Board of Social Witness of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. (Photo by Parkway Photography)."][/caption]

*  Ward Volunteers

*  Hospital Visitor

*  Activity Volunteer

*  Meeter & Greeter

*  Hospital Radio DJ …./……

*  Volunteer Driver

*  Befriender for older people

*  Supporting clients with disabilities

Churches throughout the South Eastern Trust area will help to promote this partnership within each congregation with the aim of dedicating relevant theme’s in Sunday Services.

Jason White, Assistant Director of Health & Wellbeing (South Eastern HSC Trust) says “this is an innovative partnership between the South Eastern HSC Trust and the Presbyterian Board of Social Witness which seeks to improve the wellbeing of a wide range of individuals and families across the South Eastern area. Specifically, the programme seeks to provide volunteering opportunities for members of local Presbyterian churches in places such as hospitals, children’s homes, day centres for adults with a learning disability and many others.  Through our overall volunteering programme, we are keen for as many people as possible to volunteer to help vulnerable people in their local community as this benefits our patients and clients and we believe that this scheme is an important element of this”.

Lindsay Conway, the Presbyterian Church’s Director of Social Service says, “The concept of the big society and partnership between faith communities and the statutory sector is not a new one for the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. Through the Presbyterian Board of Social Witness we have been involved in many partnerships with statutory bodies as part of our mission ‘to live out the love of Christ through a caring church within our community. This has lead to many partnership programmes, some of which have involved the Church at professional practitioner level and others that have tapped into the huge volunteering capacity of the Church”.

“Alongside this, for many years, individual Presbyterians have also shown their willingness to be involved through personal commitment to a wide range of volunteering activities including fostering, befriending, hospital visitation, etc. For all these reasons the Presbyterian Board of Social Witness is delighted to partner with the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust in this initiative and I would encourage all who can to ‘get on board’ and be a volunteer.”

If you enjoy helping others, like meeting people and have a few hours to spare in the week and would be interested in becoming a volunteer, please contact­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ ­Linda Wray, Presbyterian Board of Social Witness on (028) 9041 7234 or Sonya Duffy, Volunteer Manager (South Eastern HSC Trust) on (028) 9056 4817 or email for more information.