Our National Volunteering Week (NVW) Showcasing-our-Work series at Sligo Volunteer Centre continues! We have compiled stories from volunteers and non-profits who have used our services.  This is the second of these stories and this one comes from Connie Nell, Volunteer Leader at the Sligo Environmental Network. Here is her story:

I’m Connie Nell. I currently volunteer at Sligo Environmental Network (https://www.facebook.com/sligoenvironmentalnetwork/) which I co-founded in 2018 and where my role is Secretary. Previous volunteering experience includes work in theatres and at arts festivals. I also did the Climate Ambassador programme with An Taisce in 2018. 

What made you consider volunteering?

Most of the time the roles really interested me. Sometimes the motivation was to get work experience in fields where paid positions weren’t available, sometimes the volunteering meant that I could see shows and events and get backstage insights. When I started volunteering in the environmental area, it was mostly because I was very frustrated and depressed with how we were living our lives and destroying the planet and I didn’t feel I was making much of a positive impact on the world in my paid work. Volunteering allowed me to move from awareness to action and to find more purpose. 

Tell us an interesting/surprising thing that came out of your volunteering journey?

I now have full-time work in an area I never would have got into without my volunteering experience. At the job interviews that led me to this work, I spent around three-quarters of the time talking about experience and skills I had gained through volunteering. 

Probably the most interesting one though: We live in Sligo because of volunteering! I first came to Sligo for a short summer job. It was only because I volunteered at Cairde at the same time that I got to know people and the place so well. When the job was finished, I left but continued visiting and two years later came back to live in Sligo! 

“Volunteering allowed me to move from awareness to action and to find more purpose.”

Connie Nell 

What have you gained from volunteering?

I gained loads of insights into how organisations work in terms of their governance, how local politics work and how people can change things and make a difference through participation and active citizenship. To keep up with the tasks as a volunteer I did a lot of training and learned a lot in the fields of communications, social media, outreach, funding applications, consultation submissions etc. Most importantly volunteering has allowed me to build up a really strong network of professional and social contacts and I have made friends through that.  

How did Sligo Volunteer Centre help you?

The biggest and longest volunteer role that I am still performing was advertised through Sligo Volunteer Centre. During COVID I also started going to online events that the VC have been offering. When we ran events before COVID, we also advertised through the Volunteer Centre and we know that we always have a place to go to when we have questions around vetting etc. 

Did you attend any of the recent training sessions with Sligo Volunteer Centre? If yes, did you find them of help? 

I did and found them helpful. Sometimes I go along because I am interested in the content, sometimes because I am free and enjoy the social aspect. Volunteering has made me appreciate that it’s really nice to support the good work that others are doing and it will also hopefully make some of the other participants interested in my work. 

Is there any kind of training you’d like to see facilitated in the future?

There is nothing specific I can think of right now. But I love going along to anything that has networking components and gives us the opportunity to learn more about other organisations in Sligo. 

Would you recommend volunteering to a friend? If so, why.

Generally, I would. I would also recommend being very mindful of not being exploited, not accepting tasks that you don’t feel comfortable performing and choosing something that you are interested in and that you will gain something from. Something that will allow you to grow and be a rewarding experience.