ELDERLY BEFRIENDING SERVICE AMONG DONEGAL INITIATIVES TO BENEFIT FROM €5 BILLION RAISED THROUGH NATIONAL LOTTERY FUNDING

Thousands of individuals, clubs and organisations from Co. Donegal have benefitted from some of the €5 Billion raised by the National Lottery for Good Causes all over Ireland in the last 30 years.

An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar T.D, announced the landmark €5 Billion Good Cause figure at a special Lotto draw to mark the National Lottery’s 30th birthday in RTE.

He said the Good Cause fund has made a crucial contribution to life in communities all across Ireland over the last three decades.

The Friendly Face Befriending Service currently provides one-to-one weekly visits to approximately 60 older people across the county. It is an offshoot of the hugely successful Good Morning Support Service, which has been running for the past 11 years in Co. Donegal.

The Friendly Face scheme takes referrals from health care professionals, community organisations, and from family and friends, connecting volunteers with people in their own homes, nursing homes and sheltered housing, through one-to-one weekly visits.

The service was supported by a €45,000 grant from the National Lottery fund for Good Causes, which enabled it to expand from its Inishowen base into the Lifford/Castlefinn and Milford/Rosguill/Fanad areas in 2016.

For example 86 year-old Thomas Harte (pictured), who lives alone in Ramelton, looks forward immensely to his weekly visit from retired teacher and Friendly Face volunteer, Joe Harkin.

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“Oh, we talk about football and politics, there’s so much happening that there’s plenty to chat about. It’s very nice of him to call,” explains Thomas.

Volunteers participate in comprehensive training and have Garda Clearance before they are matched with a client. Such is the demand, that the number of referrals has had to be capped and a waiting list put in place which currently stands at 100.

“The need out there is huge,” explains Frances Browne, manager of the umbrella Good Morning Support Service. “People look forward so much to the visit and it can have a really positive impact on their physical health.

Announcing the €5 billion raised for Good Causes over the past three decades, Mr Varadkar spoke of the special place the National Lottery holds in Irish society, having been set up by the Government in 1987 with the express purpose of raising funds for good causes in the areas of health, sport, arts and heritage, youth and the environment.

“There isn’t a community, parish, town or townland in Ireland that hasn’t benefited from the National Lottery funding in some way since its foundation over the past three decades. That includes financial support for sports clubs, disability, local social and health services, artistic projects, and the Irish language. 30c in every euro spent on the Lottery goes back to Good Causes.”

National Lottery CEO, Dermot Griffin, said generating funds for deserving causes in society has been the guiding principle for all National Lottery’s activities over its lifetime and will continue to be so in the future.

Mr Griffin said it is testimony to this vision and the generosity of the people of Ireland, through good times and bad that the National Lottery has raised over €5 billion euro for Good Causes in communities across Ireland. “Having been a member of the National Lottery team for over 10 years and having seen the hard work needed to produce these results I am immensely proud of this achievement.“

“Approximately 30c of every euro generated by National Lottery sales going towards projects in the areas of sport and recreation, health and welfare, national heritage, the arts, and the Irish language. That amounts to over half a million Euros every day. Last year alone €210 million was raised for Good Causes. These funds play an invaluable role in maintaining and supporting the vital services and infrastructure which help to define Ireland, our communities and our culture.”

Donegal Daily

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