Over the last number of months the Kerry Volunteer Centre has been delighted to work with the Kerry Parents & Friends Association (KPFA) and the partnership has already borne fruit. June O’Mahony of the KPFA first contacted the Volunteer Centre this summer to discuss their need for a volunteer ‘Befriender”, a role that was successfully filled just a few weeks later.
“I was looking for a volunteer befriender in Tralee and someone mentioned the Volunteer Centre. I spoke to Linda in the office, I gave her the details and we took it from there,” June recalled. “A befriender is normally a person with a couple of hours to spare. It gives our people an opportunity to get out into the community and experience things with a new friend. It’s a different experience for them. It might just be to go for a walk or have a cup of coffee,” she added.
When June moved to a new role overseeing KPFA’s residential care in Killarney she knew just who to contact when an opportunity arose for a weekend Social Activity to Coordinator. “It’s just about organising outings, going to lunch, to the cinema, for a walk- just spending time having fun”. The Coordinator needs to offer just two hours at the weekend, or occasionally a weekday trip to the cinema. There was a great interest in the role and the first volunteer Coordinator stated at one of KPFAs Killarney residential homes in recent weeks.
“It really has worked very well so far. Our volunteer is a great support for the staff and the residents get to know someone new. Mostly they would see them more as a visitor than a volunteer and they have been really happy with them.”
Volunteers are involved in all aspects of the group’s work from practical one- off fundraising efforts to on-going opportunities for befrienders and activity co-ordinators. Getting an opportunity to volunteer with such a great group of people isn’t as easy as just signing up, KPFA need to be sure they getting just the right person for the job. The process involves getting the thumbs up not only from staff, but service users too.
“After the initial application we contacted the volunteer and did an interview with them. They came down for a cup of tea and the residents had a chance to ask them a few question as well. After that they had to fill out the application form, go through Garda vetting ad provide two references. Once those came through we invited them down for an evening to see how it works and to spend time in the house under supervision,” June explained, speaking about their latest volunteer experience.
KPFA is also currently waiting for a second volunteer Activity Co-ordinator to start in another of the Killarney residential homes, with just the final paperwork to come through.
“Getting in touch with the Kerry Volunteer Centre has really worked for us, Linda in the office was very responsive and very good to get back to us about different things,” June suggested.
“The current volunteer we have in Killarney has worked out so well. They are very dedicated. We know that volunteers only have so many hours in a day that they can give but our volunteer has been really free with their time and very obliging. We are looking forward to our second volunteer starting shortly too,” she added.
Kerry Parents & Friends Association was established in 1973 to support families and people with an intellectual disability. It now provides residential and day services, high support services, training for life, community integration programmes and individualised services for more than 200 adults in various locations throughout the county. Day services like the one offered in the Old Monastery in Killarney include a range of community and training services as well as activities that range from baking to excursions.
Anyone interested in learning more about volunteering with Kerry Parents & Friends Association should log on to www.volunteerkerry.ie or contact Linda at the Kerry Volunteer Centre on 066 7117966.