Volunteer Group Reports ‘Explosion’ in Active Citizenship

By Sharon Bellews Created: September 23, 2009 Last Updated: September 23, 2009
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Actor Pat Shortt and Volunteers Centre Ireland (VCI) Chief Executive Yvonne McKenna have launched Ireland’s biggest ever national day of volunteering.

“One positive consequence of our changed economic circumstances has been an explosion in active citizenship as people are seeking to re-engage in their communities and help both others and themselves by volunteering,” said Dr McKenna.

"We have witnessed several situations where people who have volunteered have found work directly as a result of that process and who continue to volunteer while working,” she added

Give it a Swirl Day will take place on Friday the September 25th with thousands of volunteers around the country donating 24 hours of their time, skills and compassion to others. This is the third year running for Give it a Swirl Day, the first one was in 2007 and over 900 volunteers took part. Last year saw a big increase in the number of volunteers with 2500 people taking part in hands on projects and another 2000 raised 50,000 Euro for The Hope Foundation.

“This is not just active citizenship. It’s about solidarity. Give it a Swirl Day gives those who do not already volunteer on a regular basis an opportunity to see how enriching it can be for one day and, hopefully, encourage them to continue for a couple of hours a week,” said Dr McKenna, CEO of Volunteer Centres Ireland.

There are an array of projects to help with this year from painting a homeless shelter, giving make-overs to residents of a retirement home, to showing people unfamiliar with mobile phones how to text and key in important emergency numbers into their phones as phone booths will be set up all around County Clare.

UCD students will host an open day and a day of entertainment for people in the area and some schools will hold a teacher-parent-student clean up for the day. These are to name but a few of the projects that will be going on that day or you can suggest a project of your own by getting in touch with your local volunteer centre.

The last twelve months of economic uncertainty has seen a massive upsurge in active citizenship with the numbers of people seeking to volunteer more than doubling across the country.

“The past year has visited unprecedented hardship, stress and uncertainty on many people in this country but it has also reinvigorated the sense of community in Ireland where people have given in the most generous way possible,” said Dr McKenna.

“Every single one of the 20 VCI Volunteer Centres across the country, from Dublin to Kerry and Donegal, is reporting huge increases in the number of people seeking to volunteer,” she added.

VCI says that a record 9,217 individuals have already registered this year with the state supported national volunteering organisation. The total number of VCI volunteers now stands at an all-time high of 25,637. There has also been a large increase in the number of not-for-profit organisations looking for volunteers to assist them.

More than 2,500 individuals have already been placed in volunteering opportunities which will generate almost one quarter of a million hours of volunteering in 2009. This directly equates to nearly 150 full-time equivalent workers and almost 3.5 million Euro in earnings.

Those seeking to volunteer either on a short-term basis or learn more about Give it a Swirl Day are encouraged to visit or contact their local Volunteers Centre Ireland.


Selected Topics from The Epoch Times

Daniel Craig, Contributor