Former Rose of Tralee, Maria Walsh, takes part in a community clean-up in Shrule, Co. Mayo

Maria Walsh – former Rose of Tralee, presenter and entrepreneur – was on hand to launch this year’s National Volunteering Week campaign, Volunteering Builds Better Communities. Maria took part in a clean-up in her home town of Shrule, Co. Mayo; just one of the many examples of people making a difference to their local communities across Ireland every day.

According to a new survey by Volunteer Ireland, 67% of people who volunteered felt an increased sense of belonging to their community and 70% felt it gave them an increased sense of being included and not being alone.  Tricia Nolan, Manager of South Dublin County Volunteer Centre, singled out this link between volunteering and connected communities as the focus of this year’s campaign.

“Volunteering builds better communities – it really is as simple as that. From local Tidy Towns groups to Community First Responders and the parents coaching their children’s sports teams – coming together to give back makes a community stronger. When people volunteer they feel closer to their community and the people in it, and they take pride in their community.

Ireland has a strong culture of volunteering and its impact on communities was exemplified during the recession. Volunteers in communities that were hit hard came together to do what they could to keep their town centre alive, planting flowers to brighten up the area or working together to create local events and festivals. This culture has only gotten stronger since then as Irish communities continue to feel the impact of locals who make a difference.”

South Dublin County Volunteer Centre are encouraging everyone to think about how they can get involved in their local community this National Volunteering Week (14th – 20th May). Volunteer Centres and Volunteering Information Services across the country will host open days and coffee mornings where people can drop in and find out about local volunteering opportunities and how to get involved.  Here in South Dublin County, the Centre will host a Coffee Morning  at their Clondalkin office for anyone interested in volunteering from 10 am on Wednesday 16 May.  Staff will also be available in The Square, Tallaght on Friday 16 May.

According to Tricia, there is something for everyone. “There is a wide variety of roles suitable for people of all ages and skill level. And giving back doesn’t always mean a huge time commitment either – small actions can make a big difference to a community. So if you’ve been thinking about volunteering but you’re not sure where to start, why not take the first step during National Volunteering Week?”

For more information:

Colette Gallagher, South Dublin County Volunteer Centre.   Tel 086 703 6768