IHC starts volunteer friendship programme

Now open . . . Michelle Gerwitz, of Presbyterian Support (left), watches IHC association chairwoman Sylvia Robertson, volunteer co-ordinator Dean Reed and national manager of volunteering Sue Kobar (right) cut the ribbon to mark the establishment of the IHC volunteering programme in Dunedin. PHOTO: EMMA PERRY

A volunteering programme was launched last week to provide companionship for those with intellectual disabilities.

Volunteer organisations were invited to the launch to learn more about the programme and what it would involve for participants.

IHC’s volunteer friendship programme is an initiative that matches two people based on similar interests.

As well as companionship, a skills-based programme would allow volunteers to work with people with an intellectual disability in developing a specific skill.

Volunteers would determine the length of the project while still providing friendship.

IHC volunteer co-ordinator Dean Reed said the volunteering programme would provide valuable companionship for those with intellectual disabilities.

“Loneliness can be a real issue, so our aim is to match people who have a shared interest. They can go to the rugby or the movies together and have some fun.

“People with intellectual disabilities want someone who isn’t a paid carer or a family member to spend time with.”

IHC is New Zealand’s largest provider of services to people with intellectual disabilities and their families.

Mr Reed said volunteers with a particular interest they wanted to share or those who were community-focused were welcome to apply.