Friendship Volunteers Needed for Compeer Program

Marion McNeer and Sarah Stilles know the importance of friendship. Photo by Jewell Drury
Marion McNeer and Sarah Stilles know the importance of friendship. Photo by Jewell Drury

 

VOLUNTEERS are needed in the Port Stephens area to support Compeer.

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Compeer is a community mental health program, under the banner of the St Vincent De Paul Society.

It aims to improve the quality of life and self-esteem of adults with mental health issues through one-to-one friendship with a caring volunteer.

Friends meet up regularly for simple social activities, such as grabbing a bite to eat, going for a walk or visiting a local attraction.

A Compeer friendship addresses the stigma and isolation associated with mental illness, and provides a rewarding and social volunteer experience.

Sarah Adams, Compeer Hunter Co-ordinator told News Of The Area, “Often, when people receive a mental health diagnosis, they can experience isolation from the community, and sometimes even from family and friends.”

“This is where Compeer comes in, with the new friendship starting with a one on one hang out for an hour a week to do social activities.”

“We currently have 38 matches or active friendships that have turned into long lasting friendships,” Ms Adams said.

Once people are feeling well and ready to engage in different elements of the community, they are referred to the program and are matched to a one-on-one friendship with a volunteer.

“We have people on our books aging from 18- 87 years and are hoping to introduce youth ranging from 16- 18 years soon,” Sarah Adams added.

Whether going out for a coffee, venturing down to the wharf for some fish ‘n’ chips, or conquering Tomaree Mountain, Compeer friends have a wonderful time getting to know each other.

The program first started in 2010 in Newcastle and the Hunter but has been successful Australian wide since 1995.

Research shows that all people need a positive network of social support and friendship to maintain positive mental health.

Compeer is open to adults aged 18 and over living with mental illness.

If you would like to volunteer to be a Compeer Friend Volunteer, training will be given to you and starts soon.

Contact Sarah Adams at [email protected] for more information.

 

By Jewell DRURY

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