Volunteer programme established to ‘build resilience in communities’

Volunteers can get involved in local events as well as more urgent community needs

A new community volunteer programme has been set up this week which aims to help "build resilience in communities" around Ireland.

Minister of State with responsibility for Community Development and Charities Joe O’Brien opened the national pilot community volunteers programme on Tuesday, in partnership with Volunteer Ireland and volunteer centres supported by local authorities.

The programme aims to help organisations respond to needs in their local communities by allowing them to engage trained, local volunteers.

It will give people an opportunity to get involved in local events and festivals while also supporting “more urgent needs that arise unexpectedly,” like the community response to Covid-19.

Initial run

Funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development, the programme will initially run in seven counties with ten volunteer centres.

“Volunteers over the last 18 months have been phenomenal and this launch today helps to strengthen the bond between volunteers, local authorities and the community,” Minister O’Brien said.

“Volunteering and community engagement is a key element as we reopen our society and support each other as we adjust to living with Covid-19.”

Ireland had a "proud tradition of community engagement and volunteerism" which was "a huge support to local authorities in managing the community response to Covid-19," Tim Lucey, chair of the County and City Management Association (CCMA) and chief executive of Cork County Council said.

Those who wish to take part in the programme should contact their local volunteer centre, he said.

Acting chief executive of Volunteer Ireland, Amy Woods said the programme was "built on lessons learnt from the COVID-19 response and extensive experience supporting volunteering in our communities".

It would “give those who want to get involved in their communities a new opportunity to play their part and connect with what’s going on in their area,” she said.