At this time of year we often get calls from people who want to do something for the homeless on Christmas Day. The reality is that we have limited options available for them. The reason for this is that the charities who work with the homeless in Sligo have year-round volunteers who stay involved over Christmas. These volunteers are trained, vetted and experienced and most will continue to offer their time and energy over the coming weeks.

You may feel that the only meaningful way to help those in need over Christmas is to join a soup run or deliver meals on wheels and of course the people who do this make a big difference to others and get a lot of satisfaction from it. But shaking a bucket on O’Connell Street for an hour or contributing to a cause you believe in some other way can also make a big difference. Issues like homelessness are complex and ultimately charities need funds to provide year round services. Ask anyone who’s done it – the response you get from the public when fundraising is overwhelmingly positive, and there’s a big feel-good factor when you find out how much was raised.

So the message we’d like to put out this Christmas season is that volunteering is not just for Christmas. The people who are lonely, living in poverty or struggling in other ways are there all year round and even if you don’t formally sign up to volunteer, you can do your bit in your own way. So call in to that elderly neighbour living alone (even if you never have before and you’re nervous-just do it!), chat to that person selling the Big Issue and offer to buy them a coffee or even just offer help carry someone’s groceries to the car. Guarantee it’ll get you into the true spirit of Christmas.

If you are interested in volunteering more formally, here are some options. Once you hit ‘Apply Now’ your details generally go straight to the organisation and they will contact you, possibly in January at this stage. The Volunteer Managers of Sligo are incredibly busy people so please think before you click, don’t do this lightly!

If you can do a few hours in the lead up to Christmas:

Volunteer all year round:

A full list of volunteer opportunities are listed on our website and you can apply online. If you register over Christmas we will call you in January, invite you in to an info session and you can sign up for text alerts.

Lastly, there are a number of Christmas Swims in aid of various good causes, many are listed here on Sligo Hub. One that’s not is Raghly St. Stephen’s Day swim, 1pm in aid of Acquired Brain Injury & Diabetes Ireland. Sponsorship cards in Dunleavy’s Maugherow /call 086-861 6981/just turn up.

We will be closed from Thursday 19th December and will not return until Monday 6th January. There will be no Garda Vetting or Volunteer Applications processed in this time.

Happy Christmas! From the staff and volunteers of Sligo Volunteer Centre