“You can make a real difference. You can help us to be there for another person.”
If your New Year’s resolution was to make a difference in 2022, or you wish to gain new skills, then you might consider volunteering with Aware.
The national charity, who support people impacted by depression and bipolar disorder, is seeking to recruit an additional 50 volunteers for 2022, increasing its volunteer base from 450 to 500, in a bid to bolster supports on offer.
Aware has seen a significant spike in the number of people reaching out for support and information over the past number of years. In addition to the huge prevalence of depression in Ireland, which impacts hundreds of thousands of people, the charity says that Covid-19 has also had a significant impact as many continue to experience turbulent times, the mental health impacts of which may persist for some time to come.
Aware has put out an urgent call for people in Dublin and around the country who have empathy, compassion, and three hours a week to assist with three key services: the Support Line, which operates 365 days a year; virtual or in-person Support & Self Care Groups, and the Life Skills online education programme. The organisation is seeking volunteers to work on services remotely from their own home, as well as in locations around the country.
The services are free to anyone aged 18 years and over who needs support, advice and information about issues relating to their own mood or the mood of a friend or family member, or who experience depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or related mood conditions. People can speak openly about their experience and exchange techniques in a safe, judgement free environment via zoom or on the phone, and in-person group meetings are also beginning to reopen.
“This is an opportunity to help change someone’s world during 2022,” says Stephen McBride, Director of Services at Aware.
“We are exceptionally fortunate to have so many committed and dedicated volunteers, without whom we could not provide our services that impact so positively on so many people throughout Ireland. Volunteers are the backbone of Aware, and now more than ever, we need your help. You can make a real difference. You can help us to be there for another person.”
Stephen continued to say that volunteers also find it incredibly rewarding. “People choose to volunteer for a variety of reasons. For some, it offers the chance to give something back and to make a difference. For others, it provides an opportunity to develop new skills or build on existing experience and knowledge. Volunteering is also proven to decrease the risk of depression and it also has a stress reducing effect. And many of our volunteers have had their own experience of depression or bipolar disorder and want to be there for others.
Pat Kerley from Navan Road in Dublin 7 said “I have been a volunteer with Aware for about 10 years and the saying that you get more out of volunteering than you put into it is certainly true of my experience to date. Since I started volunteering about 10 years ago, I have found Aware to be a brilliant, professionally run organisation with fantastically supportive people always willing to help callers & support each other. “Thankfully all is good in my life, however, I know this is not the case for many people. So, I have found volunteering with Aware to be an incredibly positive experience as I feel I am giving something positive back to society. Since Covid, we have been answering calls from home rather than the Aware Office so it is much easier to commit the time. However, all calls are still managed in a confidential manner.”
Aware is open 365 days a year and currently has over 450 volunteers throughout the country.
To apply to be a volunteer, you must be over 25 years of age and be available for three hours once a week for at least 18 months. Full training will be provided remotely via Zoom, and you can volunteer from anywhere once you have a reliable internet connection and a quiet place to work from. No prior experience is necessary, though a knowledge of CBT is a requirement to volunteer for Life Skills Online.
This week, Aware also launched its Adult Education Programme, a range of mental health improvement programmes designed to empower adults with the knowledge and skills to build resilience and protect their mental health.
Aware, which was established in 1985, is the national organisation providing free support, education, and information for people impacted by depression, bipolar disorder, and related mood conditions 365 days of the year.
If you are impacted by depression, bipolar disorder, or other mood related conditions, you can contact Aware’s free support line 7 days a week from 10am to 10pm on 1800 80 48 48.
For more on Aware and volunteering, see aware.ie/get-involved/volunteering/ or #WeAreAware.
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