Northern Ireland Helper service supports terminally ill people and their families
by Janis McCulla Service Manager The Marie Curie Helper service in Northern Ireland is now up and running, providing companionship and support to terminally ill people and their carers and families living in Belfast or the Downpatrick area. For the past six months we have been recruiting and training the first group of 10 Helper volunteers, raising awareness of the service locally and engaging with key stakeholders in the community. It’s exciting to have made our first Helper volunteer match to a family in need of companionship and support. The daughter, who is a full-time carer for her terminally ill mother, needed short respite support for an afternoon each week. Our trained Helper volunteer sits and talks to the mother on a weekly basis and provides companionship by just being there for her and offering a supportive and listening ear. This family was quite isolated and was referred to the Helper service by a colleague from the Marie Curie Nursing Service. The Northern Ireland Helper service, which was awarded funding from the Big Lottery Fund for three years, is being delivered in partnership with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE). We are now working closely with NIHE to raise awareness of the Helper service by using their local networks to boost referrals to the service. We are also encouraging NIHE employees to become local Helper service champions in order to reach out to more people in the community. To find out more information about the Northern Ireland Helper service, contact me by email, call the service number on 0845 302 4851 or visit www.mariecurie.org.uk/helperservice. If you wish to volunteer, please visit www.mariecurie.org.uk/helpervolunteer or call 0845 305 2191 to request an application form.