Minister Ahern Commends Voluntary Groups at Launch of Sligo's Volunteer Centre
Sligo’s Community & Voluntary Sector received a major boost this week with the official launch of the county’s new Volunteer Centre. Minister of State with responsibility for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Noel Ahern, TD., attended the launch accompanied by Mayor of Sligo Councillor Tom MacSharry and the Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council Councillor Jim McGarry.
Minister Ahern’s department has responsibility for Volunteering Measures, and they recently moved some of their staff to offices in Tubbercurry. The Department provides core funding to the Sligo Volunteer Centre.
Network of volunteers
The Minister painted a national picture of a growing network of Volunteer Centres under the auspices of Volunteer Centres Ireland, the National Organisation responsible for the development of volunteering in Ireland. Sligo Volunteer Centre comes under this umbrella body and the Minister pointed out that Volunteer Centres Ireland now represents 11 Volunteer Centres nationwide.
The Minister stated that he is “very aware of the huge level of work that is carried out by community & voluntary groups throughout the country”. However, he said that “in a changing society, we need to find new ways to encourage and support voluntary activity…” and that the emphasis is towards “local and practical, rather than grand institutional measures”, which is where the emergence of local volunteer centres, like Sligo Volunteer Centre has sprung from.
Sligo Volunteer Centre used the occasion of their official launch to allow registered Community Groups & Organisations to showcase their work and give them the opportunity to talk to potential volunteers about their volunteer needs. This was a great networking opportunity as well as a celebration of the great work that is already happening in County Sligo.
Mayor of Sligo Borough Council, Cllr. Tom MacSharry, recognized the work being carried out by the new volunteer centre as well as the work of all active volunteers in Sligo. He said that “Our dedicated volunteers are an essential force in our society. They contribute to our various communities in ways that can never be quantified or properly acknowledged”.
Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council, Cllr. Jimmy McGarry spoke of Sligo County Council’s support for the programme and the fact that they piloted the programme from April 2005-March 2006 which led to the establishment of the new Volunteer Centre. Cllr. McGarry, also spoke of the changing relationship between communities and local authorities, whereby now “Local volunteers are our community leaders who take the initiative to guide and progress their projects in active partnership with their local authority”.
On this occasion, it was vital that those in attendance should hear from a volunteer – after all it is to harness the potential of ordinary citizens to become volunteers that the Centre bases their work on. Mr. Kieran McGill, an active volunteer in the Gurteen/Keash/Culfadda area, spoke of his delight at winning the title of Sligo Person of the Year in 2006.
Sharing the workload
Kieran is involved in local GAA clubs, Community games, organizing sponsored events for charities to name but a few. Mr. McGill highlighted the potential that the service of the Sligo Volunteer Centre has to offer communities and individuals alike. He said that communities will always need volunteers to get involved and “By sharing the workload out as well around more volunteers it makes it easier for everyone involved”. He stressed that for people who are new to communities it can often be difficult to get involved. If Sligo Volunteer Centre have all the information from Community groups in the area, they can then let new potential volunteers know what options there are for them to get involved locally. He would encourage community groups to get in touch with the Centre and to let them know their needs.
Minister Ahern concluded the formalities by officially launching the new Volunteer Centre, commending all involved, and wished them many long years of ‘productive and enjoyable volunteering.’
The staff of Sligo Volunteer Centre are Co-Ordinator, Ciara O’Hara and Placement Officer, Alison Gately. They are always happy to hear from community groups or organisations about their volunteer needs or from people who wish to volunteer around the County. Alison can be contacted Monday-Wednesday on 071-911 1807. Ciara can be contacted on 071-911 1813. Alternatively you can browse their website www.volunteersligo.ie
or contact the Centre by email on email@example.com
- Sligo Person of the Year, Kieran McGill, Minister Noel Ahern, Mayor Councillor Tom McSharry, Cathaoirleach Councillor Jim McGarry, Martin Lydon, Director of Finance, Sligo County Council, Ciara O Hara, Volunteer Bureau