ROCHELLE TOOLAN HAS been volunteering with Aware for nearly two years.
“I originally got involved as I felt that depression was an increasingly common condition and I wanted to be part of an organisation that offered people support and information to empower them through what can be a difficult time.
“From working with Aware, I have learned so much about how different people may experience depression and the steps that they can take to begin to feel better.”
Colm is a service user of Aware, he said, “I cannot emphasis the level of comfort the Aware support group provided…it meant I wasn’t alone.”
Speaking about volunteering on the support mail service with Aware, Toolan said it gave her “the ability to actively listen to what a person is saying…often it can be difficult to really hear what is being said, and not to form our own opinions, and so my volunteering with Aware has helped me attain these skills.
It has also enabled me to empathise with people, rather than sympathising, and to focus on the positive steps that people can and have taken to overcome this difficult experience.
Aware reports that, “Over 450,000 people in Ireland experience depression at any one time and in severe and untreated cases, it can lead to suicide.”
The support services provided by Aware give people the opportunity to learn about their condition and develop management skills for dealing with it.
One service user said, “I understand myself and others a lot better.” Aware said that:
Volunteers are so important to everything we do, the more volunteers we have the more we can reach out.
How to get involved
Service user John: I learned what to do when the darkness comes.
Anne McCabe is Aware’s Training and Recruitment Officer she told TheJournal.ie that the service has a whole range of different volunteering opportunities.
Aware is currently looking for volunteers for a supporter role for its Life Skills Online Programme, a Support Group facilitator for face-to-face depression support groups and volunteers for a new online support for students aged 15-18 called Beat the Blues.
The first step to become a volunteer with Aware is to apply online. If you’re interested in volunteering in any of these positions you can apply here.
You will then be called for an interview and training goes on from there. McCabe said the interview “gives a chance to see if we are a good fit for each other.”
McCabe explained how full training is given and that the minimum training is 24 hours but that there’s always ongoing training after that.
She explained how the service usually has two recruitment drives during the year and how they are now looking for volunteers for December to start training in February.
Aware asks all volunteers for a commitment of 18 months and says that you must be available for 3 hours a week.
The charity also asks anyone who is considering volunteering to read its volunteer commitment statement.
Beat the Blues
People who aren’t in a position to volunteer long-term can get involved by donating a few hours this September 25, 26 and 27 to help with Aware’s #BeattheBlues campaign.
The fundraiser aims to secure funds so Aware can continue to deliver its Beat the Blues secondary schools positive mental health programme to 15-18 year-old students in schools nationwide.
McCabe said that getting involved with fundraising can be a good way to get to know the organisation before becoming a volunteer.
Volunteers are needed to help with bag-packs in Tesco stores nationwide. Every €6 raised will mean that one student can participate in Beat the Blues.
People interested can mail email@example.com or call Jane on 01 661 7211.
- Samaritans 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Console 1800 247 247 – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement)
- Aware 1890 303 302 (depression anxiety)
- Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email email@example.com - (suicide, self-harm, bereavement)
- Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)
- Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)