Belfast Telegraph

Ford welcomes 'listeners' to Hydebank Wood

Stormont Executive press release - Department of Justice

Justice Minister David Ford has welcomed the creation of a ‘listener scheme’ at Hydebank Wood Young Offenders Centre (YOC).

Justice Minister David Ford has welcomed the creation of a ‘listener scheme’ at Hydebank Wood Young Offenders Centre (YOC).

Four young offenders recently received their certificates of qualification after successfully completing an intensive training course organised by the Samaritans.

In congratulating the inmates on their ‘graduation’ the Minister said that they had demonstrated great courage and he said that they would be a great asset to the Hydebank community.

He said: “There are many lonely and vulnerable people in our prisons and having listeners on hand to provide comfort and support during difficult times is a source of great solace to the prison population. The support that prison listeners offer to their fellow prisoners goes deeper than any words and the YOC is all the richer for what these prisoners have volunteered to do. I trust they will find the experience both rewarding and sobering.”

The Minister also commended The Samaritans who provide the necessary training for ‘listeners’ in prisons throughout the UK and Ireland.

He said: “We are all aware of the unstinting and selfless work of the Samaritans and the service they provide to the wider community but we may not be as aware of the service they provide within our prisons. They train prisoners all over the country so those people in prison can benefit from the same levels of support that those of us on ‘the outside’ can avail of. We have many, many reasons to be thankful to them.”

Pamela James, Director of Belfast Samaritans, welcomed the new volunteers to the ‘Samaritan family'.

She said: “The provision of a confidential, emotional support service is particularly relevant in a prison setting, where there is heightened possibility of people feeling depressed, vulnerable or suicidal. There are some 1,700 ‘listeners’ operating in prisons throughout Britain and Ireland.

“To be a presence and a support for someone when they are feeling low is something very precious and I commend these young people who are giving of their time and making a truly positive contribution to the life of the YOC. I wish them well.”

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