By Cian Molloy - 24 September, 2020
This week is National Volunteer Week and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin used the occasion to thank all those who help Crosscare, the social services arm of the Dublin Archdiocese.
In a message on the Dublin Diocesan Facebook page, the archbishop wished ‘all our wonderful Crosscare volunteers’ a very happy National Volunteer Week.
“There have been some of you who have been able to volunteer during this challenging time and others who haven’t due to Covid risks and others who haven’t yet gotten to start,” he said. “We appreciate and value you all for staying with us!”
National Volunteering Week is aimed at thanking volunteers and organisations for all they do for the public good throughout the year, but this year it is also intended to encourage volunteers to focus on their own well-being. To that end, Volunteer Ireland, the national volunteer development organisation, is running a series of online ‘wellness’ events and workshops that include yoga, Pilates and mental health workshops.
Meanwhile, regional volunteer centres across the country are compiling a register of those who would be willing to join local Volunteer Reserve Corps. These bodies would comprise people who are not yet actively involved in voluntary duties, but who are willing to join.
For example, the manager of the Wicklow Volunteer Centre, Leah Kinsella, says: “The Wicklow Volunteer Reserve Corp (WVRC) would be called to action in any event where pre-screened volunteers were needed to help out anywhere in the county. Members of the WVRC could be called upon in times of public health crisis e.g. a resurgence in COVID-19 [and/or] to help with large public events.”
Because Volunteer Reserve Corp members could find themselves working with young or vulnerable people, volunteers will have to undergo Garda vetting, an interview and will need to provide character references.
Volunteer Ireland, which is funded by the Department of Rural and Community Development, has a number of suggestions to help charitable organisations to show their appreciation for the enormous contribution made by volunteer staff members. CEO Nina Arwitz advises organisations: “Give your volunteers a certificate of appreciation – you can download our special National Volunteering Week certificate at www.volunteer.ie/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/NVW2019-Cert.pdf. You can email it to volunteers and share it on your social media.
“Let volunteers know the impact they have – were you able to provide more services because of your volunteers? What difference do they make to your organisation and the community? Let them know! Now let everyone else know – consider sharing your volunteers’ story with the local community and local media.”
One person who has taken Volunteer Ireland’s advice is Archbishop Diarmuid Martin who has made his appreciation of Crosscare’s volunteers widely known.