Citizens Information Volunteers Honoured

January 2016

Over 250 Citizens Information volunteers were honoured at a national celebration event in Dublin Castle, recently. It marked the dedicated work of the many volunteers throughout the country who make a real difference to so many lives. The opening address was provided by Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection, Kevin Humphreys T.D.

He said: "The service provided by the Citizens Information Service and their volunteers across the country are the true building blocks for strengthening democracy in Ireland. Citizenship is very important and with that comes rights. It is invaluable for politicians like myself, when holding clinics, to be able to point constituents towards a service that is free and confidential and will provide all the accurate information they require on their rights and entitlements."

Other keynote speakers at the event included Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy well known for her work in the voluntary sector and the key figure behind Focus Ireland and the Immigrant Council of Ireland. She said: "The voluntary sector has a proud tradition in Ireland. When I began my work with the homeless the active participation of volunteers was crucial. This continues to be the case today. Volunteers are very active in areas such as health, sport, the arts and, of course, information provision." She recalled visiting Sweden in the 70’s and while a very comprehensive state service provision existed, there were no volunteers. As a result there was a 'soul-lessness' to the services. She added: "In my experience, volunteers bring a certain 'spirit' that cannot be replaced. They relate to people calling into CISs with a sense of compassion and care –and this relationship is key".

Alice Leahy, Director of TRUST a service for the homeless also spoke about the unsung heroes that are volunteers. The confidential nature of the Citizens Information Service is very important but also the 'humanity' behind those that are providing the information. She also stressed the importance of caring for the carer.

Entertainment with a CIS volunteer theme was provided by volunteers from Tipperary CIS with a very entertaining one act sketch called "A Fawlty Outreach", a poem recitation by Mike Roycroft from Nenagh Citizens Information Centre, and a contemporary dance piece choreographed by Hilary Weir, a volunteer with Clondalkin CIS. A video by the Young Irish Film Makers based in Kilkenny entitled Volunteering in a CIS was also shown (see video under photo images below).

To mark the occasion a new CIS Volunteer Pin was presented to all attending volunteers and will be available to all CIS volunteers nationwide. Ita Mangan, Chair, CIB and Michael McGuane, Chair, National Association of Citizens Information Services (NACIS) warmly welcomed all the attendees and the closing remarks were made by Angela Black, Chief Executive. The event which was compered by Anna O'Flanagan, CIB, concluded with lunch and a chance for volunteers to network with colleagues from other services.

Pictured at the Volunteer Event at Dublin Castle are from left: Moira Byrne a volunteer for over 40years with Wicklow CIS, Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy, Founder of Focus Ireland. Minister Kevin Humphreys and Angela Black, Chief Executive.

Pictured at the Volunteer Event at Dublin Castle are from left: Moira Byrne a volunteer for over 40years with Wicklow CIS, Sr. Stanislaus Kennedy, Founder of Focus Ireland. Minister Kevin Humphreys and Angela Black, Chief Executive.

Alice Leahy, Director of TRUST speaking at the event.

Alice Leahy, Director of TRUST speaking at the event.

Pictured with Mike Roycroft (left), volunteer with Nenagh CIC who composed a poem especially for the occasion are Eileen Fitzgerald and Adrian O’Connor, Senior Managers, CIB.

Pictured with Mike Roycroft (left), volunteer with Nenagh CIC who composed a poem especially for the occasion are Eileen Fitzgerald and Adrian O’Connor, Senior Managers, CIB.

Hilary Weir, Volunteer with Clondalkin CIS choreographer of contemporary dance piece.

Hilary Weir, Volunteer with Clondalkin CIS choreographer of contemporary dance piece.

Denis and Saray perform the Bachata.

Denis and Saray perform the Bachata.

Pictured left to right: Jim McCormack, Nora Culleton, Declan Kennedy Cecilia Byrne, Phil Burke and Mike Roycroft volunteers from Tipperary CIS who performed 'A Fawlty Outreach'

Pictured left to right: Jim McCormack, Nora Culleton, Declan Kennedy Cecilia Byrne, Phil Burke and Mike Roycroft volunteers from Tipperary CIS who performed 'A Fawlty Outreach'

Michael McGuane, Chair, NACIS presents the Volunteer Pin to Mary Tighe, volunteer for 35 years with Blanchardstown CIS.

Michael McGuane, Chair, NACIS presents the Volunteer Pin to Mary Tighe, volunteer for 35 years with Blanchardstown CIS.

Angela Black, Chief Executive (centre) with members of the event organising committee.

Angela Black, Chief Executive (centre) with members of the event organising committee.

Volunteers enjoy an opportunity to catch up at the conclusion of the event.

Volunteers enjoy an opportunity to catch up at the conclusion of the event.

The  new CIS Volunteer Pin.

The new CIS Volunteer Pin.

Volunteering in a CIS