By Sarah Mac Donald - 08 May, 2018
Registrations for the ninth World Meeting of Families in Dublin this August have surpassed 18,000 while volunteer numbers have now exceeded over 3,000, organisers have revealed.
According to Brenda Drumm, spokeswoman for WMOF2018, over 100 countries are represented among the individuals and families who have registered for the event from overseas.
The largest international gathering of families in the world takes place between 21-26 August at the RDS and Phoenix Park in Dublin and will see Pope Francis visit Ireland over 25-26 August.
“We are on target to have between 10-12,000 international attendees,” Brenda Drumm said.
She also appealed to anyone who is willing to host a family group, a couple or an individual from overseas to contact organisers at [email protected]
“Thousands of people will be travelling from very distant places for the World Meeting of Families and many would be unable to come if they also had to cover the cost of accommodation. Help us to welcome visiting families to Ireland and give them a home from home experience.”
Meanwhile, a volunteer drive is taking place throughout the rest of May with the aim of securing thousands more volunteers needed for the global church event.
Richard Brennan, Volunteer Project Manager with WMOF2018, explained that with over 3,000 volunteers already confirmed, they are a third of the way towards their target.
The WMOF2018 spokesman explained that 31 May has been set as the deadline for all volunteers to sign up in order to ensure that there is enough time for training and Garda vetting.
“A number of schools and companies who have said they are going to sign up have yet to come on to the system. So there is a lot of people still ringing in and asking about deadline and how to get involved. I anticipate that the number will jump.”
“The reason we’ve chosen the end of May as the closing date is because volunteers are required to go through Garda vetting and a three-step training programme. We are looking to choose people for job specific training – that is huge work behind the scenes. In order to do all this we need to have people on the system and go through it in advance – it can’t be done at the last minute.”
He explained that there are different options open to volunteers including volunteering now and helping organisers handle the clerical work in preparation for the event or working in the dedicated call centre and assisting other volunteers, or assisting members of the public to register and get tickets.
“We’re here Monday to Friday from 9am-5pm. Anyone who has some availability or free time and some skills – we’d love to hear from you!”
Looking ahead to August he said, “We are also looking for volunteers to give as many days as they can – ideally four days or more would be our preference because it means the teams would be more effective after their first day, as everyone knows what they are doing.”
But he stressed, “At the end of the day we need huge numbers and we are happy to have everyone’s help – so it you are only able to give a day or two, we’ll take you for those.”
Though the actual event is taking place between 21-26 August, volunteers are also needed for a few days before and a few days after to set up and tear down the event.
According to Richard Brennan, one of the main roles for volunteers will be stewarding and ushering.
“That is the type of event that WMOF2018 is, we’ll be assisting thousands of pilgrims coming from home and abroad – travelling the world to get here. We need happy smiley volunteers to welcome them into the country and make sure they have all the information they need, whether it is what’s going on in terms of programming, where it is going on, or assistance in terms of directions – even in terms of language skills and translating.”
Other roles will involve registration, logistics, working behind the scenes, turning the venues around to make sure they are ready, rostering and scheduling, computers and IT as well as managers, team leaders, station managers and merchandising.
“It is a once in a lifetime: it is going to be hard work but also a lot of fun – we don’t want people to miss out. It is important to reach out now and make yourself known. Go on to our website: worldmeeting2018.ie/volunteer – all the information is there and the application form or call us at 01 5676800. We have volunteers to answer your questions. Make yourself known and we’ll help you through the process – but don’t delay!”