Belfast Boys Model School
9.30am Wednesday 26 April 2017
Cycle Against Suicide with over 300 cyclists will be arriving in North Belfast on Wednesday 26 April 2017 with a special event in the Boys Model with the message “It’s OK not to feel OK; and it’s absolutely OK to ask for help”.
Each year Cycle Against Suicide and a peloton of over 300 cyclists all dressed in orange ride around Ireland to raise awareness of the considerable help and supports that are available for anyone battling depression, self harm, at risk of suicide or those bereaved by suicide.
A feature of their journey are special Anchor School Events. This year in Belfast, the Boys Model will be hosting this amazing and colourful event on Wednesday 26 April 2017 starting at 9.30am. This will include 100 strong school choir, presentations, videos, celebrity speakers, entertainment and an exhibition of local mental health services.
Colm Hayes CEO of Cycle Against Suicide said, ‘We are so excited to be coming to Belfast as part of our cycle around Ireland to raise awareness of mental health issues and even more excited to be coming to the Boys Model School in North Belfast to an amazing mental health event bringing together eleven schools from the local community, it will be brilliant’
Their visit to Belfast is being hosted by a range of schools and community groups and Jo Murphy, Director for Lighthouse said, ‘This wonderful event will showcase the talent and skills of our young people in North Belfast and also an opportunity to show we care and support each other.’
Alan Todd, Principal of the Boys Model who are holding the event underlined the importance of positive mental health messages, ‘We are well aware of the issues facing young people today and this event underlines that feeling not ok is not unusual, it’s something we all feel from time to time and there is always a positive way forward. This event is a tremendous opportunity to get that positive message across’.
This event will be very much a positive celebration and also an opportunity to show we care and support each other.
On Tuesday the 4th of November we attended an event in the City Hall run by “Volunteer Now” to celebrate Befriending week. The event was set up in order to give credit to the different organisations which offer different types of befriending services and to acknowledge the benefits of these to their service users. There were a number of organisations present and each organisation received four invites with places for two representatives and two volunteers, this was a great privilege and opportunity for us to attend and see the big difference that Befriending is making all over Northern Ireland.
There was a String Quartet to open the morning which was a group of boys from St Malachys Boys School, The Lord Mayor of Belfast was also present and gave a few words about the event and also about Befriending itself and the benefits of it among the community. Wendy Osborne the chief executive of Volunteer Now spoke about befriending and how it effects the everyday lives of different people and the positive impact on both the befriender and the service user. Wendy focused on one certain quote that she had heard from a service user “the warmth of someone who cares” this statement impacted a lot on myself and the others that attended with me as we realised just how much “caring” can impact a persons life.
There were a number of guest speakers two of which were service users, one lady had her guide dog with her as she got up to speak she spoke about her Befriender from Belfast Central Mission in such a warm and caring way you could really see just how much of a positive impact Befriending had made on her everyday life. Listening to the different service users speak about their lives and different experiences gave us from Lighthouse a great insight and hope that we too could make such a positive impact on a persons life with our Befriending Project.
Throughout the morning I could see just how hard the different organisations have been working in order to keep recruiting volunteers and also to be able to offer the best service possible to their service users. It was also lovely to see the Befrienders efforts and work being acknowledged and rewarded in such a positive way, a few of the other organisations that attended were Volunteer now, Stroke Association, Action on Hearing Loss, Action Ability Belfast, Mindwise and Deafblind NI.
The event in City Hall was a great opportunity for the different organisations to come together in order to celebrate Befriending week in Belfast, it as also a great way for us to obverse and learn the different ways befriending can help a person and become more aware of the different services available in Belfast and Northern Ireland to maybe signpost these or our own service to others who could benefit from these in the future.
Last Week we attended a volunteering opportunity at Queens University Students union which allowed many different organisations to come and interact with students about their different volunteering opportunities. We were among many other well known organisations who were also there to raise awareness and try and recruit volunteers for of their different schemes and projects available to the community.
As the students came in they made their way around the hall and spent two minutes with each organisations stand. The idea was for us as representatives to give as much information about our volunteer befriending as we could in two minutes along with giving out our flyers which contain our contact details for anyone interested in applying to volunteer with ourselves.
As we are students ourselves we thought this would be a great opportunity to interact with other people our own age as we would find it easy to communicate the importance of our Befriending Project. In speaking to the different students we found that many people showed a keen interest in our service and also in possibly volunteering for Lighthouse. We were able to easily get across the aims of our project and also the benefits of our Volunteer Befriending to both service users and Befrienders themselves.
After the volunteer speed dating has finished we realized that many of the students that attended were on a similar wavelength to ourselves and therefore that this was a very positive and rewarding experience for ourselves. We hope to attend more opportunities like this one to continue sprea ding the awareness and benefits of our project and hopefully gaining many friendly and motivated volunteers to join our team.
On Monday afternoon we also attended a pop up stand event in Queens University which took place in the Mc Clay Library, this was also another opportunity to raise awareness of Befriending. There were many other organisations and charities also taking part in this event in order to attract as many students as possible.
The Library was very busy and had quite a good response to the volunteers event there was a great interest among the students in volunteering and many approached the stands to find out more information about our volunteering opportunities. This event also gave us another chance to communicate and speak to people face to face and give them more insight into the work we are doing.
Attending these kinds of events have been very positive and successful for us in trying to promote and raise awareness for our Befriending project, it has allowed us to reach out to a certain sector of the public in a very friendly and fun way and this has proven to attract the attention of many possible volunteers to our Befriending scheme.
To follow all our opportunities and events we attend for Befriending have a look at our Facebook Page
On the 25th September we attended the University of Ulster Jordanstown Freshers Fayre and on the 29th September we then attended the University of Ulster Belfast Campus. Both events were very successful as we had a large number of students who were very interested in becoming a Befriender Volunteer with Lighthouse.
We provided the students with flyers containing information on the roles of a Befriender along with a Lighthouse wrist band, Lighthouse badge and a cupcake. After chatting with the students giving them information on what their job role would be and if they were still interested we give them an application form to complete and return either that day to us or to bring home complete and then return to the Lighthouse.
The purpose of recruiting at the Freshers Fayre was to try and get as many volunteers as we could and to raise awareness of the Befriending project and why it is an important cause. We felt by choosing the Freshers Fayre as a way of recruiting it would target a younger audience and raise awareness to the students of how common suicidal idealization, isolation and depression is in society today.
To view more pictures of the Freshers Fayre have a look on our Facebook Page for all our updates about Befriending with us
‘Aisling’ (dream, vision, daydream) takes place at the Duncairn Centre for Culture & Arts on Monday 13th October 7PM – 9PM.
The photography group is an excellent opportunity to explore creative outlets while meeting regularly with individuals who have also been affected by suicide. The men have done an excellent job of exploring their communities via visual arts and have built up a strong camaraderie in the process.
Everyone is invited to the exhibition. We hope you can make it!