Jigsaw, the youth mental health charity
Jigsaw Youth Advocates are a group working within the national centre for youth mental health. They work to create platforms and disseminate information about mental wellbeing and to actively engage young people in advocacy and stigma reduction for those with mental health issues.
Youth Advocates deliver the Jigsaw Champions programme which involves conducting numerous workshops, presentations, and awareness campaigns in schools, community centres, and local events. Through their grassroots efforts, they inspire young people to take control of their mental health while also advocating for resources and care to be made available to youth who are often unheard. They bridge representation gaps, engage on an international scale, inspire positive change, and ensure that young people have a genuine say in their mental health journey.
Jigsaw Youth Advocates are active across the country but recent victories include in Donegal, they worked in collaboration with Donegal Youth Council to plan, design and facilitate Donegal’s first Youth Participation Best Practice Seminar as part of their role on CYPSC’s Youth Participation Sub Committee. Youth Advocate Neil Moore Ryan in Kerry participated in the pre-budget campaign webinar, where she was interviewed by the Chief Executive of Mental Health Reform on her lived experience of mental health, seeking help within a system that is severely underfunded and the impact this has had on her and her loved ones. Youth Advocates also wrote to and invited politicians from across the country join them in Leinster House in July of 2023 and completed training to better understand the parliamentary processes that occur between a need and legislated help.
Victim Support at Court has grown from being a small group of volunteers to a fully professional registered charity with more than 60 volunteers providing a vital service to victims of crime and their families throughout the country. They provide emotional and practical support to victims of crime and prosecution witnesses when they come to court.
V-SAC volunteers provide a confidential and empathetic presence to confide in throughout legal proceedings as well as information about An Garda Síochána, court procedures, their rights and the resources available to victims. Their aim is to help victims to feel more confident when it’s time to attend court and to give them direct and immediate space for processing the often difficult experience.
In the past two years, V-SAC has had a rigorous expansion programme and are now established in the Western, Midlands and Northern Courts. More volunteers are onboard and because of them, 323 victims, their families and prosecution witnesses have been supported through criminal proceedings.
As one user of V-SAC’s services stated, “Thank you for everything the last few days, for listening to my rants, to calming me down, for the emotional support. I’ll be forever grateful for meeting you and for your support to me during the most difficult time of my life.”
The 38 volunteers at St Francis Hospice In-patient Unit Hospitality Group offer a range of services to care for the patients in the Raheny and Blanchardstown Hospices, with one volunteer serving for as long as 27 years. They serve meals, spend time with the patients in the gardens, read to them, and provide companionship to them and their families.
In 2022, St Francis cared for over 563 patients in the In-Patient Units of the Hospices and the volunteers’ weekly shifts allow them to build meaningful relationships with the patients. “Everything the volunteers do is done with such kindness and compassion, they treat people with respect and see them as unique and special individuals” notes their nominator. They are often one of the first people a patient and family meet when they come to the facility and their warm, friendly demeanor and cup of tea make them feel safe and welcome.
Volunteers are willing to spend very vulnerable moments with patients and make sure they are afforded great dignity. From moments as little as popping to the shop for a favorite chocolate bar, to setting up last birthday parties or movie nights, the volunteers are vital, often staying to be present after a patient has passed and is removed from the hospice in order to care for family and loved ones. It is care that is personal and involves a great deal of listening and being open to both hope and grief.