Mr Joe O’Brien TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Community Development and Charities, officially opened the Offaly Volunteer Centre yesterday.
Volunteer Centres are supported by the Department of Rural and Community Development to provide a placement service between individuals and groups who want to volunteer and organisations that are seeking to involve volunteers. They also provide advice, training, Garda vetting, and supports to volunteer organisations.
Opening the new Volunteer Centre, Minister O’Brien said: “I spent yesterday afternoon getting a whistle-stop tour of some fantastic local community groups across Offaly and I have seen first-hand the vibrancy of the County’s community & voluntary sector. As we begin to emerge from the pandemic we must support and reward the selflessness that became such a feature of how Ireland responded to the pandemic and the enthusiasm of those who came forward to volunteer themselves to help in any way they could.”
The vision of the National Volunteering Strategy is of a society where volunteering is promoted, valued, facilitated and supported so that people can contribute to developing and maintaining vibrant, inclusive and sustainable communities. The Strategy aims to promote stronger structures for volunteers and organisations, greater awareness of volunteering through increased visibility and recognition, and greater diversity in volunteering opportunities and volunteers themselves. Implementation of the strategy is well underway; the opening of Offaly Volunteer Centre is a part of that progress.
Speaking at the event Minister O’Brien said, “Volunteering makes a huge contribution to our quality of life, and to the health of our volunteers and our communities. There are more people volunteering now than ever before, people who make a real difference in so many ways in our communities. I know that the already vibrant cohort of volunteers and volunteer-involving organisations in Offaly will be further strengthened by this Centre and its services.”
Deirdre Fox, Manager at Offaly Volunteer Centre said, “It is a tremendous day for volunteering here in Offaly. I would like to acknowledge the Board, the volunteer centre staff and the volunteers who have worked so hard in helping us open our doors today. We are delighted to be going from virtually to reality. Spring is in the air and the Offaly Volunteer Centre is now on the map.”
Funding provided by the Department of Rural and Community Development to Volunteer Centres is designed to reinforce and foster volunteering in Ireland. The strengthening of volunteering infrastructure across Ireland provides invaluable support to volunteers and volunteering activity in our communities, in line with the National Volunteer Strategy. Solid infrastructure combined with strong volunteer management can help ensure that volunteer efforts are maximised across communities in Ireland.
Concluding, Minister O’Brien said, “I would like to acknowledge and sincerely thank the Board and staff of the Offaly Volunteer Centre, who have worked so hard to open their doors.”