By Ann Marie Foley - 29 June, 2015
“Whether it be the women we meet on the street or the other volunteers and permanent staff, my life is richer from having met them all" - Ruhama volunteer.
At any one time, Ruhama has around 50 volunteers, Tara Brown, volunteer manager, told CatholicIreland.net.
She said they play a “pivotal” role in the organisation.
Around 25 volunteers are regularly active in projects such as the outreach van. This specially adapted vehicle goes out four nights a week to the ‘red light’ districts of Dublin.
Women involved in street prostitution can sit in out of the cold for a spell and have a cuppa and receive support, information and referral.
The female outreach team aims to provide a safe and confidential space for women to discuss any issues that may be affecting them or simply to relax.
There are other roles available, according to Tara Brown and Ruhama will hold an information evening on Wednesday next 1 July.
For example the Education and Development Programme supports women in their efforts to create a better future for themselves, by learning or improving their English, and developing new skills and interests.
Education also helps build confidence and independence.
Volunteer English teachers/tutors are required as well as experienced trainers/group facilitators, sewing/arts facilitators and holistic therapists. Counselling and fundraising are also undertaken by volunteers.
All the volunteering roles are based in Dublin and Ruhama asks people to commit for two years. There is an initial training period of four Saturdays in September and an additional session for outreach volunteers.
Those interested in the outreach need to be available at night time, and in education they work between office hours Monday to Friday.
One volunteer who works on the outreach van said that she is finding the experience hugely rewarding.
She added that in the outreach van the support offered “can be through a cup of tea and a chat on a cold night or by helping women to take the first steps towards exiting prostitution by way of an introduction to Ruhama’s dedicated case staff.”
She added, “Initially I was anxious about the prospects of driving a large van around Dublin’s ‘red light’ district late at night.”
However, she said such concerns were not necessary as new volunteers receive full training over a period of a few months. They also do an induction period where they are paired with experienced staff and volunteers.
“Whether it be the women we meet on the street or the other volunteers and permanent staff, my life is richer from having met them all,” she concluded.
The Volunteer Information Evening is on Wednesday 1 July at 6:30pm. For further information contact: Volunteer Manager Tara at [email protected] Also see: http://www.ruhama.ie/support/volunteering/