A matchmaking service for volunteers and local organisations has been set up by Laois Partnership and Volunteer Ireland.
Volunteer Laois is in response to a growing interest in volunteerism, and a need for trained suitable volunteers by community groups. Both can now register their details on a new website, or by visiting the Laois Partnership office on Railway Street.
FG Deputy Charles Flanagan TD launched the service in Treo Nua, Knockmay last Thursday, November 15.
“Any government, irrespective of colour, must have as their priority social inclusion. In an ideal world, the state would be undertaking all this without the need for volunteers, but it isn’t like that and it is never going to be,” he said.
He commended the “great work” already being done by volunteers, and praised Laois Partnership for their efforts.
“Nobody is busier or more engaged, in areas such as rural, community, social and tourism. I am conscious that public money is being put to good use, and we have a fine example of that this morning,” he said.
Vice Chairman of Laois Partnership is Peter O’Neill, himself a long time volunteer.
“You get great self-contentment, no money can buy that. This is a fantasic initiative, but we are not on our own, over the past 2 years, 34,000 volunteers have registered around the country, and 4,000 organisations with 15,000 vacancies.
These volunteers have contributed over a million hours, worth more than €23 million to the economy, and we hope we will add to that. There is a quote, Noah’s ark was built by volunteers, the titanic was built by professionals,” he said.
Ann Goodwin CEO of Laois Partnership says they worked within a very tight budget of €6,000 to launch the service, using 1 percent of their annual Local and Community Development Programme budget. The LCDP is aimed at reducing social exclusion.
Ms Goodwin expects cuts in he upcoming budget, but says Volunteer Laois will carry on.
“There will be money ringfenced for this, we will make it work,” she said.
As well as the website, they will deliver information cards to every home in Laois seeking volunteers. They will interview candidates, and help with training and Garda clearance forms, essential for organisations dealing with vulnerable people and children.
“There are so many people who don’t know what is out there, we can tap into that reserve. We can link people together and provide support and guidance,” the CEO said.
tLouise Wall from Kilminchy was at the launch. Previously a quality manager in the construction industry, she currently has some free time and is interested in volunteering.
“I wanted to do something for ages, and this caught my eye. I want to give back, I don’t mind what organisation. I think it’s a great idea,” she said.
Ann Knight from Port Active Retirement Group was enthusiastic about the service.
“I will be relaying back information to the club, I hope it will encourage members to volunteer. It’s absolutely great, for your own sense of worth. A lot of people my age think ‘I’ve only been a mother and a housewife, I couldn’t do anything’, but they have more wisdom and knowledge than many people out of college,” she said.
For more, call Laois Partnership at 057 8662732, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.volunteerlaois.ie