Minister Launches

Speech by Noel Ahern TD, at the International Volunteer Day event

hosted by Volunteer Centres Ireland

Tuesday 5th December 2006

I am very pleased to be here with you to celebrate International Volunteer Day, a day, which offers an opportunity for voluntary organisations and individual volunteers to make visible their contributions at local, national and international levels. I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Yvonne McKenna and her team in Volunteer Centres Ireland for inviting me to attend.

Volunteers have a sense of social concern, shared values, a pride in their place and their country. In Ireland, we have numerous examples of our traditional 'neighbourliness' and of our considerable generosity to others in times of need. Volunteers have made a significant difference in the lives of others through our involvement in, for example, the Special Olympics and through our response following international disasters such as the Tsunami in Asia or famine relief in various parts of the world.

The Irish tradition of co-operation and the “meitheal” remains alive and well. Volunteers are the people who in many instances work in the background and help to keep organisations, projects and events both home and abroad afloat. Without their selfless contribution of time and energy, much of what we take for granted in terms of our society would not happen.

While there is some evidence that numbers of people volunteering fell in the late 1990’s, largely due to our improved economic wellbeing and the increasing demands of the workplace, the evidence today indicates that there remains a healthy commitment to volunteering which is often untapped.

Through the work of Volunteer Centres and VCI, we are finding that people are often just waiting for the opportunity to come forward and volunteer. Through local offices and websites, Volunteer Centres are linking potential volunteers with a diverse range of organisations and provide a role for the diverse range of skills and talents each person brings within their community.

In every community there are people doing extraordinary things. What they have in common is not just dedication or inspiration or creativity or sheer hard work. It is that they give to others the thing that is most precious to all of us... Time.

We have all given money to charity, contributed to collections, bought the tickets, and sponsored the participants, yet in many ways it can be far more rewarding to give of our time. And for the things that concern us we can make time.

Voluntary activity is a very important component of a healthy and caring democratic society. Without active volunteers, communities cannot flourish. Events like today’s are therefore important in highlighting the voluntary effort from communities and reinforcing the message that ‘your community needs you’.

As the Minister with responsibility for volunteering I am very aware of the huge level of work that is carried out by community and voluntary groups throughout the country. The development of volunteering infrastructure is central to my Department’s strategy and my Department funds many initiatives which promote, encourage and support volunteers. In that regard, our new Social Partnership Agreement includes a commitment by Government to provide an additional €5 million per annum to support volunteering. Only last week a further €224,000 was allocated to projects to promote volunteering under my Department’s local and community development cohesion fund. The total provided this year under this measure amounts to €300,600.

Last May, the Taoiseach launched the Task Force on Active Citizenship, with citizen participation and engagement as key areas to be examined by the Task Force.

The Community and Voluntary sector currently provides over €2 billion worth of services on a not-for-profit basis to Irish society. These services include social care, childcare, eldercare, health services, education, environmental, cultural, artistic, sporting and numerous other activities.

Everyone here is aware that without volunteers, these activities which are so essential to a healthy and vibrant society would simply not exist.
It is for this reason that the recognition of the role played by volunteers is crucially important.

Thank you again for the invitation to speak on International Volunteer Day. I wish you all the very best of success in your new premises and I congratulate you on the resource for volunteering which your new website provides.

Launch of the DIT Certificate in Volunteering Programme Speech for Minister of State, Noel Ahern T.D.

at the Launch of the
DIT Certificate in Volunteering Programme
Monday 27th November 2006 at 11.00am

I am delighted to be here today to formally launch the DIT Certificate in Volunteering and would like to thank Dr. Tommy Cooke and the team here in DIT for their kind invitation to attend this important event.  

I would like to commence by complimenting all of the people involved in getting this pilot project off the ground and to applaud you for positively meeting the recommendations contained in the 2004 Report Volunteers and Volunteering Ireland carried out by the Joint Committee on Arts, Sport, Tourism, Rural & Gaeltacht Affairs. 

DIT, in common with the other third-level institutions, has played a key role in providing a highly qualified, skilled and well-balanced workforce to meet the needs of companies setting up here.  Education, however, must go beyond the formal educational needs of students. 

We must have a balanced approach to the way we educate our students, including encouraging good and active citizenship.  The benefits for students are that the quality of their overall learning is improved and their understanding of the ethos of good citizenship is enhanced.  However, the most exciting practical prospect is the opportunity provided to students to work on the ground with organisations involved in voluntary activity. 

We as a nation got a wake up call in the 1990’s when statistics showed a falloff in the numbers of people involved in volunteering. However recent figures from our Volunteer Bureaux show a healthy increase in numbers.  I believe that people are sometimes just waiting for the opportunity to come forward and volunteer.

Most of us will give money to charity, but giving time is harder, yet in many ways far more rewarding.  And everyone - however rich or poor - has time to give.  We also have so much to offer our communities.  Each of us has a passion.  It might be for business, for sport, for music, for gardening, or simply for working with other people.  Each of these talents and passions has a role in volunteering within the community.

As the Minister with responsibility for volunteering I am acutely aware of the huge volume of work that is carried out by community and voluntary groups throughout the country.   That is why my Department supports initiatives such as the Volunteer Bureaux where people can find out about volunteering opportunities, and where organisations can source volunteers.  It also supports the Young Social Innovators Programme aimed at transition year students and the Community Learning Programme, which is run here in DIT.

I understand that the Certificate in Volunteering will combine the learning that takes place in the voluntary sector with a series of classroom modules tailored specifically to the sector.  The modules include Personal Effectiveness, Leadership, Project Management, Negotiation, Ethics, and Social Responsibility among many others.  I know that prospective students for the pilot phase will be recruited from DIT’s clubs and societies and from Dr. Tommy Cooke’s very successful Community Links Programme, which has been in existence since 1997.

A distinguishing feature of the Certificate will be its delivery strategy, which will incorporate the use of computer graphics and game based learning.  This is a new departure in learning that will provide multi-faceted benefits for the learner and will no doubt prove to be a success.

It is notable that one of the seven aims of the certificate is to form the basis for the development of a DIT degree-level course in Active Citizenship.  In May last we saw the launch by the Taoiseach of the Task Force on Active Citizenship, with citizen participation and engagement as key areas to be examined by the Task Force.   In our new Social Partnership Agreement, Towards 2016, we again see explicit reference to the huge value placed on developing volunteering. 

The Community and Voluntary sector currently provides over €2.5 billion worth of services on a not-for-profit basis to Irish society. These services include social care, childcare, eldercare, health services, education, environmental, cultural, artistic and countless other activities.
Everyone here will also be aware that without volunteers, these activities which are so essential to a healthy and vibrant society would simply not exist.

It is for this reason that the support of a project like this for volunteering is very important.  Equally, this project will enable people who want to get involved in voluntary work to identify organisations with whom they can work.   It is precisely for this reason that the Government has given a commitment to provide an additional €5m per annum to support Volunteering within the Community & Voluntary Sector.

I will conclude by thanking you again for the invitation to be here, and wishing you the very best with the Programme which I look forward to seeing in other third level institutions over the coming years.

Barnardos Helping Hands Young Volunteer Awards 2006 ( supported by Softech)

Barnardos calls for nominations for  Barnardos "Helping Hands" Young Volunteer awards. This is a competition which aims to promote volunteering among young people and to recognise the contribution that young people make by volunteering.
There is a top prize of a Laptop Computer and two prizes of €100.00 music vouchers.

Read more: Barnardos Helping Hands Young Volunteer Awards 2006

Salesforce database for non-profits

Did you know...  Salesforce,  a large multinational Company, whose speciality is Customer Relationship Mangement Software, have a policy of corporate giving including the donation of 1% of their products, 1%  of their equity and 1%  of their staff time

Volunteer Centres Ireland members have benefited from the generosity of Salesforce in the past as they have developed a Volunteer Management Database for the members of Volunteer Centres Ireland.  This new database means that centres can accurately manage their volunteers, organisations and volunteer vacancies plus give up to date, accurate statistics on volunteering trends both locally and nationally.

Salesforce are looking for other Irish not-for-profit organisations to partner.  If your organisation needs a database to record statistics, help you manage your organisational needs, record client and organisational contacts or much, much more, Salesforce would like to hear from you. is currently used by over 1000 qualified nonprofits organisations around the world to manage membership, contact and affiliate data, track and forecast fundraising campaigns, report on volunteer opportunities, and a myriad of other data management needs.

To apply for a donation of 10 Enterprise Edition licenses from the Salesforce Foundation, create a trial account by completing the sign up form.

Have Your Say - register for one of the active citizenship regional consultation meetings or submit your views in writing.

The Taskforce on Active Citizenship was established to advise the Government on the steps that can be taken to ensure that the wealth of civic spirit and active participation already present in Ireland continues to grow and develop.

Have Your Say

The Taskforce are hosting a number of consultation seminars, details are as follows:



Thursday 14th September 10a.m. - 1p.m.

Dublin, Croke Park
Tuesday 19th September 7p.m. - 9p.m.Monaghan, Four Seasons Hotel
Wednesday 20th September 7p.m. - 9p.m.Sligo, Sligo Park Hotel
Tuesday 26th September 7p.m. - 9p.m.Galway, Radisson SAS Hotel
Thursday 28th September 7p.m. - 9p.m.Cork, Kingsley Hotel
Monday 2nd October 7p.m. - 9p.m.Tullamore, Tullamore Court Hotel

Early booking is advised as places are limited. Places can be reserved by contacting the Taskforce Secretariat by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or telephone: 010 353 (0)1 6194520 / 4558 / 4330

If you would like to take part in the written public consultation process that the Taskforce are currently running please click on the icons below.  The Taskforce ask that you submit your views no later than Friday 29th September 2006. 

Public consultation Paper - download document Public consultation paper - download Questionnaire

Complete on line questionnaire Background Working Paper - Download Document


The New National Agreement has good news for volunteering and for local Volunteer Centres  in Ireland.  The government remains committed to supporting the measures announced for volunteering in 2005.  VCI and its' constituent members were funded through this announcement.  Below is some of the text from the agreement.   Volunteering will receive an increased budget of €5 million per anum.

Policy on Volunteering 

The Government will continue to develop policies on volunteering arising from the package  of measures initiated in February 2005.  A key principle underlying the Government’s  approach is that volunteering finds meaning and expression at a local level and that supports and funding should seek, as far as possible, to recognise this reality. The Government remains committed to further developing policy to support volunteering, drawing on the experience in delivering these measures and informed by the recommendations of the Task Force on Active Citizenship. 

Funding the Community & Voluntary Sector 

In the context of implementing this agreement based on a ten-year strategy and focused on delivering the outcomes envisaged in the life-cycle framework in the areas of income, service provision and innovation/participation/activation, the Government acknowledges that the CV Sector has a central role to play in delivering the outcomes envisaged.  
Significant funding is currently provided to support both the activities of the sector and to develop the capacity and infrastructure within the sector.  This includes a wide range of programmes and measures with an annual cost of over €300m through the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, as well as programmes in a range of other Departments.

The Government is committed to appropriately resourcing the sector into the future as part of this agreement. The Government remains committed to reviewing the funding mechanisms for the C & V sector, to identify areas of overlap or gaps. The Government also remains committed to the White Paper principle of providing multi-annual statutory funding.
The Sector’s important role in service provision will continue to be funded appropriately where it is delivering services on behalf of the State. This will be reflected through an increase in funding as part of the ongoing expansion in overall expenditure on service delivery in the course of the agreement, subject to the budgetary parameters of paragraph XX.
In addition to this increase as part of ongoing service expansion, the Government will provide
the following specific additional supports to the sector:
There will also be increased investment in the Community Services
Programme of €30m by 2009.
Increased funding of €5m per annum to support volunteering.
ncreased funding of €10m per annum to support the C&V Sector, including
the costs arising from contributing to evidence based policy making, over and
above normal activities and programmes.

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