Two north Down women have been praised for their work supporting Northern Ireland’s most vulnerable children.
Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland hosted an event at Parliament Buildings last week at which the NSPCC volunteers were commended for their ongoing commitment to ending cruelty to children.
A long-time fundraiser with the charity, Barbara Walker from Bangor received special recognition for her dedication as a young witness supporter.
With her ready laughter and her keen sense of justice, Barbara was lauded for bringing a critical eye to the judicial process and inspiring her colleagues as they work to support children experiencing the challenges of giving evidence in an adversarial court system.
Holywood’s Zoe Ryan has been volunteering with the Independent Visiting Service for over five years. Commended at the event for her commitment, Zoe’s lively nature and listening ear were credited with having enabled her to build a trusting and supportive relationship with the young person she supports.
Mr McCausland said: “The dedicated volunteers in the NSPCC give up their valuable time in helping to protect the most vulnerable in our society and they should be commended for their sterling work.
“The work of volunteers in Northern Ireland is very important in helping support our local communities. I look forward to engaging with a range of Northern Ireland volunteer organisations about promoting their work in the future.”
Describing the charity’s vital core of volunteers as its “lifeblood”, NSPCC Assistant Director Bronagh Muldoon said: “Over 400 men and women in Northern Ireland dedicate hours, days and weeks of their lives each year to supporting NSPCC services and fundraising teams.
“These individuals give their time freely to volunteer with ChildLine, to support young victims and witnesses making their way through the court system, to visiting, advising and befriending looked after children, and by participating in and running a host of fundraising activities.”
Describing 2011 — European Year of Volunteering — as the perfect opportunity to highlight the work of an “exceptional” body of volunteers, Bronagh added: “Our volunteers are the lifeblood of the NSPCC.
“We rely on them to help us fund and run our projects and services, and we are immensely grateful for the time, skills and enthusiasm they dedicate to our work in Northern Ireland.
“Thanks to their efforts, we can continue working to transform the lives of vulnerable children and young people.”