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27/07/2021

Laois Volunteer Superheroes launch the new Laois Volunteer Centre

Centre launched in Portlaoise during National Volunteering Week

volunteer laois

Caitriona Ryan, Manager of the new Laois Volunteer Centre is joined by Laois County Council Cathaoirleach, Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald, Conor Ganly, Centre chair & Laois volunteers. Pic: Michael Scully

Volunteers from a range of organisations in Laois gathered this week to help launch the new Laois Volunteer Centre.

Award-winning volunteers were among those who gathered at Fitzmaurice Place in Portlaoise’s Old Fort Quarter with Laois County Council Cathaoirleach Catherine Fitzgerald to help get the new service off the ground.

The launch of the independent service took place during what is National Volunteering Week which runs this week from May 18-23.

The Laois Volunteer Centre, fronted by Laois woman, Caitriona Ryan from Ballyfin, will help people who want to volunteer in their community to find suitable volunteer roles and will help local non-profit organisations to recruit volunteers.

Ms Ryan was recently appointed as the new manager of Laois Volunteer Centre and is looking forward to the Centre becoming a ‘one-stop-shop’ for volunteerism in Laois. MORE BELOW PICTURE

David Farrell (Laois Civil Defence), Caitriona Ryan (Manager, Laois Volunteer Centre) and Liam Preston (Officer, Laois Civil Defence)

Ms Ryan has extensive experience in the voluntary, charity and community sector having previously worked as Community Employment Supervisor & Manager of Clonaslee Community Centre as well as Community Employment Supervisor in the Michael Garry House for the Homeless in Newbridge, Co Kildare.

She has also assisted low-income rural people to access employment and/or training whilst working as a Training Development & Employment Officer with Laois Rural Employment Partnership Ltd. Caitriona holds qualifications in Social Care and Community Development & Leadership and is undergoing a master’s degree in Adult Education & Development at NUI Galway.

“I am so delighted to be the Manager of this new Laois Volunteer Centre,” commented Ms Ryan.

“This is a very exciting time for Laois and I greatly look forward to working with people and organisations who want to volunteer in Laois and connecting them to volunteering opportunities for the benefit of the individual and their communities.

“I would urge people and community groups to get in touch with our centre by logging onto any of our social media platforms on Facebook and Instagram or at www.volunteerlaois.ie,” she said.

Ms Ryan said that work to get the Centre, which has charitable status, full operational has been delayed by Covid-19 restrictions but significant progress is now being made.

She said a Laois Volunteer Centre office will open and additional staff are being recruited to place volunteers with local organisations.

She added that the Centre will in time provide advice, training, and consultancy to local organisations on a range of issues relating to best practice in volunteer management and delivers a Garda Vetting service for local non-profits.

Garrett Culliton (Laois IWA) with Caitriona Ryan at the launch

The aims of Laois Volunteer Centre are:
- to promote the value of volunteering and civic responsibility and to increase the range and quality of volunteering;
- to increase access to volunteering by offering a support service to the public and volunteering involving organisations (VIOs);
- and to carry on these charitable purposes for the benefit of the inhabitants of Co Laois and its environs.

To fulfil these aims and in turn enrich the Laois community, Caitriona Ryan has already begun engaging with organisations to discuss volunteering opportunities which will be of benefit to both them and to their volunteers.

A volunteer application portal and database for Laois known as ‘I-Vol’ has now been established and therefore provides the following services to organisations:

  • Advertisement of organisation’s volunteering vacancies on Laois Volunteer Centre’s database (I-Vol) of volunteering roles
    Free volunteer referral service.
  • Training for organisations on issues such as volunteer management.
  • Consultancy and advice around policy issues and governance in relation to your volunteer programmes.
    Garda Vetting service for organisations.

Caitriona Ryan with UN vets at the launch in Portlaoise

Conor Ganly is the Chairperson of the new Laois Volunteer Centre Board and commented that it’s great to see the months of work preparing for the set-up of this Centre coming to fruition.

“Great work has been done in relation to volunteering in Laois. This was in no small way thanks to the late Anne Goodwin and the work done by Laois Partnership and local volunteer organisations such as Tidy Towns.

“However, with this new dedicated volunteer centre, headed up by manager Caitriona Ryan, we will have a dedicated space with the staff resources to focus on making volunteerism a success here in Laois. Having a dedicated centre will help to develop an environment and set of support structures that facilitates the highest standards in Laois”, said Mr Ganly.

Mr Ganly said the new centre has been made possible thanks to the invaluable funding from the Department of Rural and Community Development under an initiative spearheaded by Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development Joe O’Brien.

He also played tribute to the vital contribution of Volunteer Ireland and in particular its Volunteer Centre Development Manager Zsé Varga for their assistance.

Mr Ganly also thanked the board members for their work. They are: Allan Boyle, Secretary, Catherine Corbett, Treasurer, Pauline Flanagan, Director and Georgina Ireland, Director.

The Laois centre is one of seven being set up this year, joining a network of 30 Volunteer Centres located across the country which fulfil a critical role in the community –promoting and enhancing volunteering and invigorating communities by building connections between volunteers and local organisations that involve volunteers across the county.

Caitriona Ryan and Laois Volunteer Centre board chairperson, Conor Ganly at the launch at Fitzmaurice Place in Portlaoise.

For local organisations that involve volunteers, Laois Volunteer Centre will advertise their volunteering vacancies and provide a free volunteer referral service.

If you are a volunteer or are an organisation who would like to register with Laois Volunteer Centre, please either download the ‘I-Vol’ app on your phone or visit www.volunteerlaois.ie or check out ‘Volunteer Laois’ on facebook and instagram to sign up today.

Pictured below at the launch of Laois Volunteer Centre at Fitzmaurice Place in the Old Fort Quarter, Portlaoise were: Caitriona Ryan (Manager, Laois Volunteer Centre) and Conor Ganly (Chairperson, Laois Volunteer Centre ). Also pictured: Mick Gorman (Down Syndrome -Laois Branch), David Farrell (Laois Civil Defence), Alice Culliton (Concern Volunteer Award Winner ), Gerry Browne (Portlaoise Tidy Towns), Rosey Kunene (Laois Integration Network), Dan Bergin (Laos PPN, Resource Worker), Julie Bolton (Volunteer Ireland Award Winner) UN Veterans - Paddy Canning, Tony Flanagan and Dermot Conlon, Garrett Culliton (Laois IWA), Liam Preston (Laois Civil Defence). Photos: Michael Scully

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