– On Saturday February 12th the European Year of Volunteering (EYV) 2011 was officially launched in Dublin by Mary McAleese, President of Ireland.
– The launch event, which was sponsored by Intel Ireland, was held in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Dublin.
– The primary aim of EYV2011 is to raise awareness of the impact that volunteering activities have on society and to empower people to volunteer by promotion and facilitation and by raising awareness of the value which volunteering inherently provides to communities.
On Saturday February 12th the European Year of Volunteering (EYV) 2011 was officially launched in Dublin by Mary McAleese, President of Ireland, who is Patron of European Year of Volunteering 2011.
Over 300 individual volunteers and non profit organisations from all over Ireland came together to celebrate the commitment of up to 1 million active volunteers in Ireland at an event sponsored by Intel Ireland.
Volunteering Ireland, who is appointed the National Coordinating Body for EYV2011, launched a dedicated website EYV2011.ie today calling on volunteer organisations to register their events to the online calendar, so that volunteers can see what events are happening in their region where their skills might be required.
The contribution required by organisations and communities from volunteers is evident throughout Ireland with more than 40,000 volunteer-driven organisations nationwide transcending every sector of society– from Sports, Community, Children & Young people, Animals & Environment to Arts Culture & Media, Campaigning & Raising Awareness, International Development and Health & Training.
Speaking at the event Irish President Mary McAleese said, “There is a saying that ‘he who gives when he is asked, has waited too long’. Volunteers are people who see a need and say “let me help.” That offer of help is made without thought of any personal reward beyond the fulfilment that comes from giving. But in this year which focuses on volunteering I take this opportunity to warmly thank Ireland’s volunteers and to encourage them to keep on volunteering and to encourage others to get involved, to volunteer and to discover the hidden treasury of fun, friendships, insight, wisdom, experience and personal well-being that comes from being of service to others”.
The primary aim of EYV2011 is to raise awareness of the impact that volunteering activities have on society. In Ireland, it is a celebration of the estimated 750,000 to 1 million volunteers who give their time to countless industries, activities and guises. The year is also about empowering people to volunteer by promotion and facilitation and by raising awareness of the value which volunteering inherently provides to communities.
Northern Ireland Social Development Minister Alex Attwood also attended the launch event and said, “I’m honoured to be in Dublin to help with the launch of the European Year of Volunteering. There is a wealth and diversity of volunteering across Ireland. It is part of our national character. It is witnessed in every town and townland, city and county. Volunteers contribute enormously and it’s important to recognise the cross border nature of volunteering with many organisations working on an all island basis”.
Throughout EYV2011, Volunteering Ireland aims to shine a light on the individuals who are contributing to their communities and participating for the greater good of others. Based on the 2006 census figures, volunteering numbers represents 37.1% of the total population (4,234,925) in Ireland.
Minister for Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, Pat Carey said, “As a people, we have always shown a deep sense of duty to each other. We must not underestimate the role that participative democracy, expressed through volunteering has to play in shaping the future. The European Year of Volunteering is an opportunity to take stock of the great value that volunteering brings and to celebrate volunteers throughout this precious island that we share.”
The colourful ceremony, sponsored by Intel, attracted people from all walks of life who came in their droves to celebrate Ireland’s volunteering community. From Harry McLaughlin, aged 7, who raised almost €5000 for the victims of the Haiti earthquake for the Concern Haiti Appeal to Joan Coughlan, aged 93, who volunteers for Senior Help Line, a programme of Third Age which is a voluntary community organisation, to performers on the day who included the Latvian Society of Ireland, the Garda Band and St Agnes Primary School, the value and joy volunteering brings to peoples lives was illustrated in abundance.
Elaine Bradley, CEO Volunteering Ireland said, “We all have a need to belong, to engage with others and be part of a community. Voluntary activity has tremendous potential to foster reconciliation and mutual understanding between communities. Today is a cross-border celebration to raise awareness of the great act of volunteering; we are calling on every community in all four provinces to celebrate our volunteers. Go onto our website EYV2011.ie and see how others are making a difference”.
Intel, which employs over 4,000 people at facilities in Leixlip and Shannon, has been operating in Ireland for more than 20 years and in that time has had a long and proud tradition of volunteering with employees contributing almost 150,000 hours of volunteer time over the past 3 years.
Eamonn Sinnott, General Manager, Intel Ireland and Vice President, Technology Manufacturing Group, attended the ceremony and said, “Intel is delighted to be involved as a sponsor of the launch event which celebrates the vital role that volunteering plays in our society, not only because of how it can change the lives of those who we reach through volunteering but in how it enriches the lives of volunteers themselves. At Intel, volunteering is a part of our culture and our employees look forward to playing their part in the European Year of Volunteering”.
Despite hardships of the current economy, individuals are prepared to contribute their time, energy and skills to organisations and groups that rely on volunteers to function, for example, the GAA alone has over half a million volunteers, St Vincent de Paul has 9500 volunteers and St. Patrick’s Day draws approximately 500 volunteers for its festival.
Further images from the event can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/55550679@N03/sets/72157626046504722/
About Volunteering Ireland
Volunteering Ireland is the national volunteer development agency, which is a peak body for all organisations involving volunteers in their work and a representative voice for volunteering in Ireland. As an independent membership-based organisation, Volunteering Ireland work to inspire, promote, support and celebrate voluntary activity in Ireland and abroad.
The Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs and the European Commission appointed Volunteering Ireland as the National Coordinating Body for the EYV2011. The Department for Social Development in Northern Ireland is also represented on the steering group since at an all-Ireland level, voluntary activity has tremendous potential to foster reconciliation and mutual understanding between communities.
For information on volunteering, log onto www.volunteeringireland.ie or Follow @VolunteerIrl on Twitter.
About European Year of Volunteering 2011
The EU has designated 2011 as the European Year of Volunteering in order to draw public attention to volunteering. The importance of volunteering has long been acknowledged by the EU and now the EYV 2011 aims to inform the general public about the benefits of volunteering. The year will foster an understanding for the importance of volunteering in creating a more democratic, caring and responsible society. Its main aims are:
• promoting volunteering amongst European citizens
• supporting and reinforcing European volunteering organisations
• improving the recognition of voluntary work and the challenges it is facing
• celebrating the commitment of millions of European volunteers, who devote themselves to supporting people, causes or communities, both within the EU and abroad
For more information on the European Year of Volunteering 2011 log onto http://www.eyv2011.ie
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