Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Joe O’Brien, TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Community Development and Charities today highlighted the importance of volunteers and volunteer managers throughout the country particularly in the context of the Covid pandemic and the immense volunteer efforts that have been evident in communities across Ireland over the past year.

Minister O’Brien opened the Volunteer Ireland – National Volunteer Management Conference 2021 – by referencing the long tradition of volunteering in Ireland and acknowledging the immense contribution of volunteering to our society during the response to Covid-19 over the last number of months.

Volunteer Ireland has been running this conference for the past 10 years and this is the first year that it has been held virtually.  It provides an opportunity for those that manage volunteers in charities and community groups across Ireland to learn about best practice in volunteer management and to be encouraged, supported, and inspired when they return to their day-to-day work and management of volunteers.

Minister of State, Anne Rabbitte commented:

The best antidote I know for worry is work. The best cure for weariness is the challenge of helping someone who is even more weary. One of the great ironies of life is this: He or she who volunteers almost always benefits more than he or she who receives the work of the volunteer.  Volunteers are often the unsung heroes in every town, village, community.

Minister O’Brien opened and closed his address by sharing his personal experiences of volunteering and his appreciation for the importance of good volunteer management and supports.

Minister O’Brien said:

The exceptional community response that we have witnessed this past year to such extreme adversity and upheaval to all our normal lives – the type of which we could never have imagined – could not have happened without selfless volunteers coming forward to help and, crucially, volunteer managers and volunteer organisations, helping to coordinate and maximise these efforts. The extraordinary events of the past year have certainly shown us the value of good volunteer management in important areas such as screening and selecting the right volunteer for the right roles, training and inductions, support and supervision, and knowing how to deal with conflict.

The Conference this year has a strong focus on the National Volunteering Strategy, which was launched in December 2020, and many of the events over the course of the two days look at how the strategy can be implemented to the benefit of the volunteering community.

In addressing the Conference, the Minister said:

This strategy is an acknowledgement by the Government of how important volunteering is to the well-being of the nation and to steer the delivery of an agreed and ambitious vision. As Ireland starts to recover, we know that there will be changing needs and priorities within individual communities, and I know that volunteers will play a hugely important role in that recovery. I am pleased to be able to say that Government will continue to support the volunteering community in developing volunteering for the benefit of our society.