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Charities in recruitment drive to boost volunteer numbers

Charities and community groups will gather in Galway this weekend for a recruitment drive aimed at boosting the number of volunteers they can call upon.

Organisers say the hundreds of roles on offer will give people of all ages and backgrounds new ways to participate in their localities.

The event will take place at Leisureland in Salthill on Sunday afternoon.

It is being overseen by the Galway Volunteer Centre and involves more than 60 different entities based around the city and county.

The centre’s co-ordinator, Donncha Foley, is hoping over 1,000 people will sign up to volunteer on the day.

He says that the benefits of such activity brings great fulfilment to participants and is vitally important to the groups that would have difficulty functioning, were it not for the time and effort given freely to them.

“It’s the sense of community, particularly in urban areas, where people might be living in estates where they don’t know their neighbours. People have a desire to get involved in their communities and this is a way to do a small thing to feel like you’re giving something back, you’re kind of pushing the wheel in the other direction, I suppose.

“There’s a huge emotional benefit in it as well. We often talk about the mental health benefits of volunteering. It’s a great way to learn new skills… but ultimately, it’s about meeting new people and being sound.”

Jordan Fogerty has been helping out at a mid-term camp

Social care student Jordan Fogerty, from Oughterard, agrees. He’s been helping out at a mid-term camp organised this week by the Galway Autism Partnership (GAP), after signing up to give some of his time to the charity in recent months.

“I love it and the team here are so helpful and welcoming. All the service users here are so lovely and I just genuinely enjoy spending time with them and doing activities with them. It’s so rewarding and it’s nearly like a vocation, none of it is work. You’re coming in, you’re having fun and doing loads of activities here.”

Máire Bríd Ni Chonghaile says the contribution of volunteers is crucial

GAP’s General Manager Máire Bríd Ni Chonghaile says the contribution of the many volunteers they have is crucial to the day-to-day operation of the organisation.

As well as backing up full-time staff, they provide a constant for service users that is essential to making their visits to the centre comfortable and enjoyable.

“There are so many things we can plan, so much the facilitators can do, so many organisations we can reach out to and strike up contact and it can be wonderful… but if we don’t have the steady support of volunteers coming in here on a daily basis, on a weekly basis, those wonderful things won’t happen.”

The volunteer fair runs from 2pm to 5pm in Leisureland on Sunday, 18 February.

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