This event, held on Friday 11 March, marked an afternoon of celebration and recognition for all the Volunteers involved in The Together For You Project. With Together For You coming to an end on 30th April this was also the perfect opportunity to reflect on some of the highlights over the past few years.
The venue for our event was the famous Crumlin Road Goal as we wanted the day to be a fun day out for the Volunteers, a chance to unwind and mingle with each other…whilst receiving some very well deserved certificates and awards!
With a short space of time to organise the event, huge thanks must go to Volunteer Co-Ordinator Ian Cardwell who had been busy behind the scenes liaising with the Crumlin Road Gaol on menus, transport and the tour itself. Staff at the Gaol had been fantastic from the word go, giving us free reign over the function room and were on hand to keep us warmed up with tea and coffee and a beautifully served hot meal - there was enough for us to go up for seconds…it was a Friday after all!
14 Volunteers attended, along with MindWise Staff and the wonderful Ballyclare Music Group who kept us entertained with their talented tunes throughout the afternoon.
After a brief overview of the Project from myself and Ian Cardwell we moved on to the presentation of certificates and Awards, with CEO Edward Gorringe kindly on hand to present and have a photo opportunity with the Volunteers.
Awards Winners were as follows –
“Karen is a valued member of the MindWise Ballyclare team.”
“Is a great support to our members...spends a lot of time talking to them, encouraging their involvement...and takes a person centred approach in doing this.”
“Displays commitment and genuine care and respect towards the members.”
“Karen has grown in confidence and this has been wonderful to see.”
“A huge asset to us.”
The winner of the Together For You Volunteer Award is – Karen Agnew.
Karen Agnew has been Volunteering for over a year in the Ballyclare Resource Centre.
Karen started off one day a week supporting with sports activities. Over her time Volunteering her confidence has soared and Karen now Volunteers a few times a week getting involved in all aspects of the Resource Centre – from day trips and outings, driving members to and from the centre, one to one befriending support and of course competing with members on the pool table.
The next award is the Together For You Volunteer of the Project Award –
This award is to recognise someone who has gone over and above their role as Volunteer during the 3 years of the project with involvement across the partner organisations.
The following was said about the winner of this Award –
“She is positive, en
thusiastic with a can do attitude.”
“Ready to challenge things that could be improved and suggest ways of achieving this”
“Flexible and adaptable.”
“Often changed her own plans at short notice to attend a course.”
“Always keen to develop her own skills and work on long term goals.”
The winner of the Together For You Volunteer of the Project Award is - Shirley Roberts.
Shirley has been Volunteering for nearly 2 years and firstly started out in MindWise Lurgan Resource Centre facilitating a knitting group, this then led onto supporting with Catering Volunteering. Shirley has attended nearly every training course on offer and is always the first to offer to lend a hand at events, but it was her own interest in finance and HR that led Shirley to her role with partner organisation CAUSE. Using her own skills and expertise in Admin and Finance, Shirley is now a valued member of the CAUSE team and wishes to continue to Volunteer with CAUSE after Together For You finishes.
We would also wanted to recognise a runner up for the Together For You Volunteer of the Project Award who we felt had shown considerable contribution above their role during the 3 years of the project.
The following was said about the winner of this Award:
“He wanted to know all about the organisation and soon was volunteering his time in all of the services we provide.”
“He is extremely competent, flexible, punctual, willing and committed in all he does.”
“Always pleasant and happy to do what he can for others.”
“An impeccable model of a textbook Volunteer.”
The runner up for the Together For You Volunteer of the Project Award is – Peter Edwards.
Peter was referred to Together For You from his support at The Cedar Foundation. From first meeting with Peter his enthusiasm and urge to give back was evident. Peter not only supports whole heartedly with all aspect of Cruse Bereavement Care but has also attended a variety of Training courses for his own development.
In addition to our Award Winners we also had a few comments from staff that we’d like to share –
Gwynneth Withrow had this to say about the WRAP Volunteers who Co-Facilitate the WRAP Programme. –
“They bring their unique, individual lived experience to the groups and that the participants really relate to them because of this. They contribute as co-facilitators using their skills and knowledge to ensure the best learning environment and they model the use of WRAP and a powerful self management tool.”
We also asked Together For You Project Manager Amanda Jones to give a few comments on Volunteer involvement over the course of the project and she had this to say –
“The contribution MindWise volunteers have made to the Together For You project and partner organisations services is invaluable.
The time given up by the Volunteers has had a positive impact for partner organisations in provision of services and events and for service users who have benefitted from the support to maintain positive mental health and wellbeing.
The work of MindWise and the volunteers will have a long lasting impact in communities as the volunteers continue to raise awareness and encourage help seeking behaviours.
I wish to congratulate each and every one of the volunteers and the MindWise team for an outstanding achievement since the project began and to thank everyone for their commitment and dedication to both the volunteer programme and the Together For You partnership”
Over the past few of Together For You, one thing is evident – All the Volunteers who have been involved with the project have shown an unwavering level of compassion, commitment and genuine interest in the ethos of Mental Health, and on a personal note are some of the most inspiring people I’ve had the chance to meet. I’d like to also take this opportunity to wish each and every one of you all the best in any endeavours you decide to purse after the project ends and THANK YOU for all that you’ve done to ensure the success of services delivered. You have made a huge difference.
To finish up our Aw
The day was finished off with a tour of the Crumlin Road Gaol. A few eerie tales were told and some of our Volunteers had as much knowledge of the history of Crumlin Road as the tour guide herself. A great day was had by all and of course we couldn’t leave without some last minute photos in the gallows...and thankfully everyone was accounted for at the end of the day with nobody having to spend a night in the cells!ards part of the afternoon Volunteer Natalie Smyth offered to give a few words on her experience of Volunteering. Natalie spoke eloquently and honestly about how being a WRAP Volunteer Facilitator not only helped her with her own confidence and Recovery but felt as a Volunteer sharing her experience others could relate to this. Natalie also spoke about her Volunteering as a Reading Group Facilitator with both Action Mental Health and MindWise Downpatrick Resource Centre, where she said she felt a real sense of belonging, being part of a team, a community.
Written by Deborah McCready
Volunteer Officer – Together For You
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