Almost 17,000 people respond to government call for community volunteers during COVID-19 crisis

Mr Michael Ring TD, Minister for Rural and Community Development, and Mr Seán Canney TD, Minister of State for Community Development, Natural Resources and Digital Development, have welcomed the fantastic support of volunteers from local communities in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Since the call for volunteers to support the community response to COVID 19 went out in March, 16,957 people have registered to volunteer through the iVol app.

Volunteers are directly linked by their local Volunteer Centres to local organisations responding to COVID-19, conducting a wide range of very important work – from delivering food and medicines to older people who are self-isolating, to those volunteering in COVID test centres.  There are also countless volunteers on the ground, helping out family, friends and neighbours.

Minister Ring said:

“I would like to express my deep appreciation for the invaluable work being carried out by volunteers during the COVID-19 emergency.  The response to the COVID-19 crisis shows once again what a fantastic resource we have in our volunteers. We need to build on this momentum for the future development of volunteering.

“As a country we have always depended greatly on the great cohort of volunteers that give so generously of their time and energy year in year out.  Unfortunately, many of our volunteers are older people who have been confined to their homes as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

“Back in March as the crisis was emerging, we called on people to help meet the significant needs at community level and the response has been magnificent.”

Minister Canney added:

“Volunteers make a vital contribution to Irish society, developing communities as vibrant, inclusive and sustainable places where people want to live. This volunteering spirit has been so clearly visible in local communities across the country throughout the COVID-19 crisis.”

The Department of Rural and Community Development provides supports to Volunteer Centres, Volunteer Information Services and other Volunteer Organisations around the country.  Volunteer Centres have seen a continuous rise in the numbers of volunteers since the crisis began, with people of all ages stepping up to ensure that vital supports are services continue during this time.

Minister Ring said:

“I am very happy to be in a position to provide the necessary supports to underpin this important work through my department’s collaboration with Volunteer Ireland and the network of Volunteer Centres. Together, we will ensure that the work of these volunteers results in a permanent legacy for the benefit of our communities.”

During the crisis, the department has introduced a number of additional measures to provide extra support, including:

  • additional funding of €500,000 to Volunteer Centres to support the COVID-19 volunteer efforts
  • a COVID-19 Communication Pack for Communities
  • a collection of seven leaflets offering practical advice and information on topics ranging from sensible volunteering to vulnerable persons to the prevention of fraud and theft
  • a €2.5 million COVID-19 Emergency Fund for local authorities to administer to community groups partaking in the ‘Community Call’
  • €40 million support package of supports for Community and Voluntary Organisations, Charities and Social Enterprises

The department is also currently drafting a National Strategy on Volunteering, which includes a National Advisory Group on Volunteering, a collaborative stakeholder engagement group chaired by Minister Canney.

As Chair of the National Advisory Group, Minister Canney noted:

“The National Volunteer Strategy will provide a road map for the future promotion and development of volunteering our communities. The finalised Strategy will take both the positive experiences of volunteering and those lessons learned during the COVID-19 crisis in recognising, supporting and promoting the unique value and contribution of volunteers to Irish society. Hopefully many people have the urge to volunteer now and see the benefits of volunteering not only to their communities but to themselves.”

Minister Ring concluded:

“The response to the COVID-19 crisis shows once again what a fantastic resource we have in our volunteers. We need to build on this momentum for the future development of volunteering. I urge people who are in a position to help out to contact their local volunteer centre. It’s really important to remember that volunteering should be done in a safe way so that neither volunteers nor those in need are put at risk.”

 

ENDS

Notes to the Editor:

Volunteering Statistics:

16,597 volunteers had registered with IVOL by 20th May 2020 in direct response to COVID-19 (Source: iVol).

Contact details for getting involved with Volunteering are below:

There are currently 22 Volunteer Centres and 7 Volunteer Information Services located within the State.

If you want to get involved in volunteering, details of the network of Volunteer Centres and Volunteer Information Services are available at volunteer.ie.

DRCD Supports for Volunteering

The Department of Rural and Community Development has always provided supports to Volunteer Centres, Volunteer Information Services and other Volunteer Organisations around the country.  The overall objective of the department’s supports for community and voluntary programmes is to provide a cohesive framework of support for the community and voluntary sector in line with the White Paper on a Framework for Supporting Voluntary Activity and for Developing the Relationship between the State and the Community and Voluntary Sector (2000).

The Scheme to Strengthen and Support Volunteering programme which has a budget of €3.5m in 2020, supports Volunteer Centres in 21 counties as well as a number of national volunteer-supporting organisations such as Volunteer Ireland and Young Social Innovators.

During the crisis, the department has introduced a number of additional measures to provide extra support, which have included:

Volunteer Support Programme (€500,000) to scale up of Volunteer Centres during the COVID-19 emergency, providing additional financial support to Volunteer Centres, administered through Volunteer Ireland, in order to meet the significant extra demand placed on our Volunteer Centres during the COVID-19 emergency.

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