Volunteer your time for Rural Support

Volunteer your time for Rural Support
SERVICE: Retiring Volunteer Andrew Stewart is alongside Rural Support CEO Jude McCann.

RECENTLY Rural Support held its annual Volunteer BBQ which is in appreciation of all the hard work and dedication mentors and volunteers undertake throughout the year.

This year the barbecue was held in conjunction with the launch of the charity’s new Farm Relicense Programme which is supported by the Princes Countryside Fund.

The barbecue was held at Castlescreen Farm, Downpatrick, as

the owners Jackie and Damien participated in the Farm Resilience Programme last year and wanted to demonstrate what they have learnt from it and implemented on their farm to potential participants.

Although the event was an excellent opportunity for volunteers, staff and mentors to interact and catch up, it was also a sad occasion as Rural Support said goodbye to one of its much-loved volunteers Andrew Stewart.

Andrew became a volunteer at the inception of the charity but now wants to concentrate on other aspects of his life.

Andrew said: “During my time with Rural Support I encountered a wide range of problems requiring one to one contact and usually several visits to the farm to be able to suggest helpful ways of dealing with the situation.

“No two situations were the same; they ranged from financial difficulties, to personal problems leading to rights of way disputes and disagreements over inheritance issues.

“In the uncertain years ahead for farmers their will continue to be an important role for Rural Support in listening, visiting, signposting and mentoring. I wish Rural Support continued success.”

It is estimated that over a quarter of people in Northern Ireland have volunteered for different organisations in 2016, according to Community NI.

Volunteering can provide the opportunity to empower and help others, gain experience, improve career prospects and meet new people.

‘Giving’ is also considered to be one of the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ according to the Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland.

Volunteers are crucial to Rural Support to not only help spread awareness of the charity, including the services it can offer, but also support the helpline which is the backbone of the charity.

Being a volunteer for Rural Support means you can use your skills and abilities in a meaningful way as well as helping and encouraging others who may need the charity’s support.

Deborah Gavin, Volunteer Co-ordinator for Rural Support, said: “We really rely on our volunteers and value the commitment and level of expertise they bring to the organisation.

“Our volunteers assist with our freephone helpline, help at events such as agricultural shows and provide practical and technical support to farmers on the phone or face to face.

“We will be sad to see Andrew go as he has been an incredible asset to the charity and will be greatly missed. The energy and dedication Andrew brought to the charity was amazing, but we wish him the best of luck with his future endeavours.”

If you have time to give and wish to become a volunteer for Rural Support or would like more information on volunteering opportunities please contact Deborah Gavin, Volunteer Coordinator, by phoning 028 8676

0040 or emailing deborah@ruralsupport.org.uk.

Rural Support needs the help of volunteers so that it can continue to listen, support and guide famers and farm families across Northern Ireland; your help could make a huge difference.

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