5 May, 2021

Extern is warning of an increased need for support for people who have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, as it launches a new volunteering campaign with a call for befrienders to help those who have become lonely or isolated during lockdown.

The Extern Extras campaign will seek to recruit new volunteers to serve as Telephone Befrienders across Northern Ireland. Their role will be to provide phone support on a one-to-one basis to people who are vulnerable or isolated, encouraging them to engage in meaningful activity, and promote the development of their skills and independence.

The campaign launched recently with a special online event, at which guest presenters included Lady Mary Peters, who spoke of her own positive experiences of volunteering, as well as Extern volunteer Dorothy, who recounted how losing her son to suicide had led to her volunteering her time to support others who have been bereaved.

The campaign will also seek to offer a wider range of roles across the charity’s frontline services in the months ahead, as well as opportunities to assist with fundraising and awareness activities.

CEO (interim) of Extern, Danny McQuillan, said: “Sadly, over the past year we have seen at first hand the profound impact that lockdown has had on many of the people who avail of our services, in particular those who are vulnerable or isolated. There is great concern that as we begin to come out of lockdown we will see an increase in people seeking help and support.

“That is why we are seeking compassionate and motivated people to become befrienders with Extern, where they will be able to make a difference to people’s lives from the very beginning. What we are looking for are positive, friendly people who have the ability to show understanding, empathy, and respect towards those who may be struggling to cope with the ways in which they have been impacted by the Covid pandemic and the resultant lockdown.”

He added: “Volunteers play a vital role in enabling Extern to deliver life-changing services to thousands of people across Northern Ireland every year. They really can make a difference to the people we support and to our frontline teams, as they often bring fresh ideas and a new perspective to our work. And in return they can expect to be given world-class training and the ongoing support of our dedicated volunteering team. As someone who began their career as a volunteer myself, I know at first hand how it can have the potential to change lives for the better, and enrich one’s life greatly.”

The campaign has also been supported by Volunteer Now, the lead organisation for promoting and supporting volunteering across Northern Ireland.

Denise Hayward from Volunteer Now said: “We are delighted to support Extern in this campaign. Volunteers have been instrumental throughout the pandemic in supporting the most vulnerable, isolated and lonely and we know that this volunteer support will continue to be needed as we emerge from lockdown and begin to see some of the longer term impacts.”

Details of current volunteering positions with Extern can be found at https://www.extern.org/volunteer-with-us

Latest vacancies and callouts for volunteers are also available by following @ExternCharity

You can also view our recruitment video here.