Awards for Portlaoise Le Cheile volunteers

Volunteers who spend time with young offenders to get them get back on the right track, were honoured last Saturday in Portlaoise.

Volunteers who spend time with young offenders to get them get back on the right track, were honoured last Saturday in Portlaoise.

Le Chéile, the Portlaoise based youth mentoring project, awarded their hard working volunteers at their Summer Social day in the Parish Centre. Certificates and awards were presented for mentors who have given one, two and three years of service with Le Cheile.

Among those honoured were Teresa Mooney from Portarlington who has volunteered for nearly four years, and Claire Delahunt from Portlaoise who received a trophy and certificate for her two years of service. Midlands co-ordinator Helen McCarthy said the work of the volunteers makes a big difference to lives of troubled teenagers.

“This type of mentoring relationship can have a major impact on a young person at such a formative time in their life. All our volunteers do such great work for us in the community, our service is built on their commitment to us. Their dedication, patience, and kindness in the work they do for us makes it a privilege and a pleasure to honour them in a day like today” she said.

Le Chéile have 23 mentors volunteering with them, both men and women from the midlands area. They each meet weekly with a young person engaged with the Probation Service, supporting and encouraging them to change their life for the better.

“They are a positive role model for the young person, giving a consistent, supportive and non-judgmental friendship to guide them in the right direction. Maybe getting them involved in a course or hobby or working to achieve small goals,” Helen said. Some of the volunteers work instead with parents of young people who are under the Probation Service.

“They support parents in the challenges they face, strengthening their skills and effectiveness in the home,” she explained.

The Summer Social day is one of two occasions in the year when all the mentors have a chance to get together socially. Portlaoise Parish Centre had an exotic feel to it this year, thanks to the Hawaiian theme, which included palm trees, floral necklaces and cocktails. “I’m really grateful to all the local supermarkets who donated spot prizes, to Bosco’s Catering and to Midlands Premier Event Management who helped make the evening possible,” said Helen.

For information on Le Cheile Mentoring and Youth Justice Services contact: 086 7966441 or helen@lecheile.ie