Big thank you from

Wendy Tate

Wendy TateWENDY Tate, 34, from Dromore is a volunteer for 'Via Wings' a project which was established to create a place in Dromore to offer help to people as 'an eagle's wing afforded to its young'.

A house became available last year and was named the 'House of Hope', volunteers emerged and Via Wings was born. 3 Iveagh Terrace is a home from home - a place to chat, develop contacts, get a young parent back into education or employment, deal with issues in confidence and a resource centre to help those who have hit hard times. It provides a safe and caring environment with non judgmental staff ready to give a warm welcome. Wendy who is employed as a Care Assistant by the Old Station Day Care Nursery is married to Cecil and they have two children Grant and Sophie- As well as her work with Via Wings Lisa is a well known outreach worker in Dromore.

I devote one full day each week to working with Via Wings and this is usually a Tuesday. As well as this I attend meetings and work some evenings if required. I aim to be at the house for 8.45am after I have dropped my children to school. Normally myself and the other volunteers will hold a debrief session and a time of prayer before we open up at about 9.15am.

I'll make sure there is plenty of tea and coffee in the pump pots for the ladies who will be dropping by. We never know exactly how many women will turn up but we like to be prepared.

Really my job is just to be there for the women who come for a chat. Some bring their small children too so we will make sure they have plenty of toys to keep them entertained. Regularly people like to have a chat in confidence so we will go upstairs and have a private chat. We call it our reflection room and everything that is discussed is confidential. All kind of women are catered for at the house. We basically reach the emotional and social needs of women who may have suffered economic and social problems.

I could also be registering girls on to courses and contacting the different bodies who run them to try and get them to implement the courses they offer to our women. I also look into grant funding and ways to fundraise to raise money for the group.

Basically we are just here for the girls. We are one of them and very down to earth. As well as talking to the girls and doing administration I could be cleaning the house or organising rotas for volunteers to work at the house or bring food for the ladies' lunches. Some people who don't have much free time but want to help in another way, like to prepare things like soup and wheaten bread, cheese and rolls for the ladies. People really are so generous.

We aim to close the house at 3.30pm and once we do myself and the other volunteers sit down and have a coffee while we discuss any issues that have risen that day. Once the house is tidied and locked up I head home and will spend time making sure my children do their homework. Then I will make dinner and do some house work. I spend my evenings during the week taking the children to all their different activities. I also started playing the piano three years ago and am practicing for my grade three exam at the moment.

If I could afford to give up my paid job I would, and then I could devote my time to my volunteer work as I enjoy it so much. It is very satisfying and gives me a great sense of achievement. Being part of the people's lives who I work with is a privilege and knowing that I am making a small difference is humbling.

Ulster Star