Get off that couch, your locality needs you

Now that the September meeting of the Galway Races is upon us this weekend, sure we may as well be dusting down the Christmas trees, the winter is heading in so fast. And when we’re done bitching about the weather, let us take a step back and see is there any way that we can make a major contribution this winter to making Galway a better place for a lot of vulnerable people.

Bear with me to the end of this piece. Leave down that latte. I won’t be long. I don’t want to sound preachy about this, but there is nothing more fulfilling that giving a little bit of yourself to your community to help sustain the type of society that you like to live in. At the moment, there are many groups and associations in Galway who are looking for volunteers, but there are two in particualr who have made a special plea for help.

One such group is the Samaritans — an undervalued body of people who are there for us all should we ever feel the need to pick up the phone and talk to someone.

This city is full of people who feel lost, who feel rejected, invisible and lonely and who just seem not to be able to get on the carousel that is the perceived image of this city. And there are those who are temporarily flung off the carousel and who also need help and that’s where the Samaritans come in.

The Galway Samaritans at this moment require dedicated people who are good listeners, who don’t feel the urge to give advice and or judge people’s actions. Dedication and commitment is very important, and people need to have time to give — approximately three hours per week is required. This commitment of volunteers is very important to ensure that callers to Samaritans receive the best quality service.

I have no doubt that Galway has thousands of people who fit the bill, so pick up the phone to the Samaritans and see if you can make such a difference. The Samaritans are holding an information meeting at 8pm on Monday next September 8 at the Galway Bay Hotel in Salthill, Galway, and another at 8pm on Monday week, September 15 at the Quality Hotel in Oranmore. If you can’t make either of those, phone the centre on 091 561222 or 561224.

The second Galway group which needs help urgently is the Big Brother Big Sister programme. Now that is a unique programme in that it pairs young men and women with a friend who they can meet once or twice a week and who can give them a break from their normal life. These are all great kids identified by the programme as being people who can benefit enormously from having a mature friend with them at this stage of their lives. At the moment, the programme is short of men. Is there someone you know? Ideally between 20 and 40, good natured and willing to try sporty activities or share a hobby with a young male for an hour a week. It doesn’t have to be abseiling down the Eircom tower in Mervue. It can be just a kickabout in a park. Or a soda in a coffee shop.They currently have nearly 20 young males between the ages of 10 and 15 who could really benefit from having a Big Brother to hang out with. As a Big Brother, over the course of a year you would spend an hour a week with a young person sharing your hobby/interests/skills/life experience. If you think you would like to be a Big Brother or would like to find out more please contact Alan (086 8524920 ) or Ciara (087 7996268 ).

Believe me when I say that Galway is benefiting enormously from having both the Samaritans and the Big Brother Big Sister programme. Now go play your part. You’ll be really glad you did.

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