Much of the work of CentrePeace is to help those in need who face isolation and loneliness. Last year, their team of qualified, experienced tutors developed their own unique companionship course called PACCT (Personal Awareness and Compassionate Companionship Training); a 12 week course to equip volunteers to be part of their front-line companionship team at the centre. This bespoke, secular course gave participants a grounding in personal awareness, compassion and human kindness; in order to reach out to others, in a befriending role, safely and for the right reasons. With visitors from all walks of life, including those who are marginalised, facing homelessness and poverty, the companionship team have specifically helped over 200 local residents since the project began.
Feedback from the pilot PACCT courses evidenced the value of such befriending training and subsequent involvement helping others, locally. Comments included: "healing and life altering", "enlightening", "fantastic", "meaningful", "life enhancing", "my way of thinking has changed", "liberating", "I cannot recommend it enough to others. ... I think it's a great thing for people to discover that they matter".
Over time, CentrePeace have become increasingly aware of the need to take their services out to people where they live in order to reach those who are living hidden lives, often in fear and isolation. This is how the CentrePeace Outreach project came into being. The aim is to foster neighbourhood connection and offer a hand of friendship to anyone in need. Volunteer CentrePeace Companions will visit people in their homes, or on the streets, offering kinship and comfort; inviting others to free well-being sessions, and CentrePeace social gatherings along with networking with other groups in Paignton to link local people to activities of personal interest.
The new CentrePeace Outreach project is being funded for two years by the People’s Health Trust and CentrePeace will begin by running PACCT courses to train up more volunteer companions. This exciting opportunity is being extended to anyone who would like to take part in this unique opportunity; a chance to be part of a new, local initiative which is forging the way in community-led local change . Information events will be held over the next two weeks (see details, below) and the first part of the course – PACCT I will begin on Tuesday 3rd November, completing just before Christmas.
If you have time to give and would like to grow your skills as a compassionate companion, contact Angela Neil at CentrePeace on 01803 550720. Be part of the change!