National Volunteering Week 2020 officially kicked off Monday morning, September 21st with the launch of How Irish Communities Stepped Up To The Mark: Stories Of Irish Volunteering During COVID-19: a collection of heartfelt stories to showcase the impact of volunteering on all corners of society in recent months.

PHOTO: Mark Stedman

Ciara Herity, Sligo Volunteer Centre Manager remarked, “In 2020, volunteers in Sligo have been nothing short of phenomenal. This is why we felt it was important to shine a spotlight on their amazing efforts in this collection of stories. From delivering shopping, making face masks or phoning those in isolation for a chat, volunteers made sure nobody was left behind. This story collection provides a tiny snapshot of the positive impact that volunteers in Ireland made during the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteer Ireland and the network of Volunteer Centres, including Sligo’s saw more than 20,000 people register to volunteer in response to COVID-19, and provided guidance, training and extra support to organisations engaging volunteers.” 

Groups like the Irish Cancer Society scaled up their volunteer programme quickly to deliver vital services with support from the network of Volunteer Centres. Across the country, young and old alike wrote letters to residents in nursing homes who couldn’t receive visitors. In every community, volunteers made a difference!

Joe O’Brien TD, Minister of State for Community Development and Charities, commented, “I’m delighted to be involved in launching what I hope will be a week when volunteers across the country feel especially valued and recognised. This week is all about volunteers and this collection of stories showing the impact of volunteering in recent months is another way of highlighting the tremendous work that has been done. Take time for yourself and remember that this week is all about you and your well-being.”

Along with the launch of the story collection, this week will see a host of free wellness events for volunteers across the country to thank them for their efforts. We are pleased once again to partner with Healthy Ireland who shares our passion for the health and well-being of our communities. 

Minister of State for Public Health, Frank Feighan remarked, “As we launch this collection of unique volunteering stories today at the start of National Volunteering Week 2020, I feel that it’s important to state as the Minister with responsibility for the ‘Healthy Ireland’ programme, just how important volunteers and volunteering are in our communities. Volunteering plays a critical role in supporting healthy, resilient communities. This reality has become even more clear since the onset of the COVID19 pandemic.  Since March, volunteers have been an integral part of the response to COVID-19 and at the start of National Volunteering Week 2020, I want to thank volunteers nationwide for their dedicated service during this time of national emergency and for ensuring that people’s health and wellbeing were safeguarded. I firmly believe that it is also essential that volunteers take time to focus on their own health and well-being during these challenging times and the months ahead.”

Organisations and volunteers across the country are being encouraged to share their own stories of volunteering on social media during this week and use the hashtag #NVW2020. 

How Irish Communities Stepped Up To The Mark: Stories Of Irish Volunteering During Covid-19 can be downloaded and read here