Mary Rice volunteers with ISPCC Childline in Castlebar, Co. Mayo. This National Volunteering Week she tells us why she volunteers, what it’s like and why she’d recommend it to everyone.
Mary began volunteering with Childline in 2012 following the passing of her husband. With two children in college, she wanted to do something for herself and to set an example they could follow. Eight years later and Mary hasn’t looked back! In fact, she’s already talking about giving more time once she retires.
Mary spends 4 hours a week (6pm – 10pm every Saturday) with Childline’s phone service. Mary’s role is to listen to any children that contact the service online, by phone or by text and give them a safe space to talk. The aim of the service isn’t to give advice but rather to listen to children, to support them, empower them and work to strengthen their resilience to help them cope with challenges they may face. Children don’t need to have a problem to call, they can simply ring up for a chat if they like. According to Mary, it can be something as simple as sharing the news that they got a new pet – it’s all about creating the space to talk.
One of the first things Mary points out when we chat is that she gets just as much out of it as she gives. “I absolutely love it; I find it very fulfilling. It so quickly became a part of my life”.
Mary also acts as a mentor to new volunteers, supporting them and helping them get used to the role. “We have such a fantastic team in Castlebar. I’m in my early sixties and volunteer with people in their late teens and early twenties. It’s such a great mix of people and we all get on so well”.
Finally, I asked Mary what she would say to other people thinking of volunteering. “There are so many opportunities for people to get involved and you really do get a lot more out of it than you give. Giving back to the community is a wonderful thing to do; I’d recommend it to anyone”.
Anyone interested in volunteering with the Childline service can find out more at ISPCC.ie.