Befriending project award honour for Paulette McArdle
Public Participation Network annual awards night hosted by Bellingham Castle
One of the Special Awards presented went to Paulette McArdle from the Befriending Programme, a strand of the Drogheda and District Support for Older People group.
Paulette started the programme three years ago and the concept has really taken off.
Basically, they recruit volunteers who go to visit people in their community.
At the very start, Paulette visits possible clients and tells them about the service and if they want to take part.
Volunteers are then interviewed and vetted and eventually they meet their friend for up to one hour a week.
'They just sit down and talk, it's not about cleaning or bringing anything. Some people like to talk about old days and our volunteers sit down and listen and chat. It's about personal interaction and giving them time.
'People can be recommended to us for the service or family members might ask us. But people out there who might like to avail of it should just contact us and we'll take it from there.'
They have up to 35 matched couples at the moment.
'It has settled into the mindset and a lot of older people are embracing it. We have people from 25 up to 80 as volunteers and our clients are up to 100 years old.'
The service is for south Louth and East Meath as well as Ardee to Stamullen.