NYCI calls on people in north Dublin to volunteer, following 64% drop in volunteers during pandemicPadraig Conlon 31 Jan 2022
Ben Connolly, from Malahide (pictured above), has told of the confidence he gained as a person through volunteering with local groups in his area.
His story about the benefits of volunteering is part of a new National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) campaign, urging people in Dublin, and across the country, to consider volunteering with their local youth work groups, following a sharp decline in volunteer numbers as a result of the pandemic.
Ben, who is age 18, is an active volunteer with a number of groups, including Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU), Dublin Homeless Awareness, SoupRunDublin, Oxfam, Seapark Shoppers, Belvedere College VDP, Jesuit Refugee Service and many other organisations.
Speaking about his experience of volunteering, Ben noted how important it has been to his confidence: “When I was younger, I was a bit of a sheep. I was afraid to stand out and would always follow the crowd; I’d only ever do things that felt safe. I first got involved in volunteering in transition year, when I started a soup run project to feed homeless people. And that kick-started it all for me. I’ve been involved in my school council, in the Second Level Students’ Union and lots of other volunteering projects. I’m not afraid to stand out now – I’ll step forward; I’ll ask tough questions. I’ve figured out who I am, and that I really want to make a difference.”
The NYCI is urging people across the country to consider volunteering with their local youth work groups. The call comes in response to research figures published in its recent report ‘Youth Work and Covid-19’ which found youth work volunteer numbers across the country dropped by 64%, as a result of the pandemic, due to public health restrictions, personal health concerns and people not being in a position to work online.
The national volunteer recruitment campaign ‘Community is You’ aims to inspire and encourage people to get involved with local youth work groups, and ultimately restore youth work volunteer numbers to pre-pandemic levels.
Commenting on the campaign, Mary Cunningham, CEO of NYCI, said: “Local youth groups play an essential role in communities across Ireland, and volunteers are the backbone of these services. As a result of the pandemic, we’ve had a major decline in volunteer numbers in youth groups in every corner of the country and we would love to see these volunteers return, but equally we would love new people to get involved.
“We know many people have seen the true value of their local community over the past two years and perhaps they may be thinking about giving back and becoming a volunteer. It’s clear from the stories of volunteers the great sense of purpose that volunteering offers and we hope this campaign inspires people to take action and get involved so that we can rebuild our safe and secure spaces for young people.”
NYCI is calling for people (aged 18 years and older) with all kinds of experience and skills to sign up and get involved with volunteering for their local youth groups. To find out more about youth work volunteering and opportunities, visit the webpage at www.youth.ie/community-is-you.