Citizens Information Volunteers are honoured by the Citizens Information Board for their outstanding work - past, present and into the future
Over 180 Citizens Information volunteers were honoured at a national celebration event in Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, last week. It marked the dedicated work of the many volunteers throughout the country who make a real difference to so many lives. Ita Mangan, Chair, CIB and Eamonn Burgess, National Association of Citizens Information Services (NACIS) warmly welcomed all the attendees.
The opening address was provided by Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty T.D.
She said: “The Citizens Information Service provides invaluable help and advice to people throughout the country, and has for more than 45 years. In 2016 alone, the Citizens Information Services helped over 600,000 people and answered over a million queries. I am delighted to attend this event today which acknowledges and celebrates the significant contribution of the many volunteers who are involved in the delivery of the Citizens Information Services. The work carried out by the over 1000 volunteers has helped countless people access information or services, and has strengthened the Service’s reputation as a trusted, impartial national service.”
Volunteer recognition has been an important feature on the CIB event calendar for the past six years. It acknowledges the importance and value of volunteers, particularly for the Citizens Information Service. The Volunteer Strategy which will be published shortly, looks at how volunteers can be further encouraged and supported and is the cornerstone of this work both now and into the future. Speaking at the event Angela Black, Chief Executive said:
“A new national strategy for Volunteering in CISs – the second such national strategy - will be launched in January 2018. It embodies the vision that Citizens Information volunteering is not only life-enriching for the individual volunteer, but very much enhances the common good. This is realised through the enormous contribution of Citizens Information volunteers to the delivery of essential services in their local communities.”
Liam Casey, President of the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP), East Region also spoke at the event. Liam joined Saint Vincent de Paul in 1977 and has served as a volunteer ever since. For over 173 years the Society has sought to serve the most disadvantaged in our community and the demands for help show no signs of letting up. Food poverty is now an issue for many in our community and homelessness remains a serious concern for a growing number of individuals and families. He added:
“Over the past 12 months, the 3,100 volunteers in Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow have visited and supported over 100,000 individuals where they are living. SVP spent over €11million in direct assistance by providing key necessities such as food, clothing, light and heat, accommodation and assistance with education. Demands continue to grow, and SVP East received 73,000 calls last year directly to the central Helpline”.
Other keynote speakers at the event included Sandra McIntyre, Chairperson of the Board of Foroige. Foróige is Ireland's largest youth organisation working with over 50,000 young people across the country on an annual basis. The organisation is committed to enabling all young people, no matter what their background, to reach their full potential as active and engaged citizens.
This was followed by Mary Watters, Manager of the Meath CIS who gave an insight into what it’s like to “be on call” as a volunteer Cardiac First Responders. Cardiac First Responders (CFR’s) are groups of volunteers set up around the country who are linked with the National Ambulance Service. They are trained to respond to incidents in their community where someone is having a heart attack, a stroke or choking. These groups form a vital part of the Chain of Survival, giving someone in Cardiac Arrest the best chance of survival.
An informal couch conversation took place with three people who volunteer with different organisations: Zeph Ngaliema, Immigration Advocate, Moira Byrne, volunteer with Bray CIC and Brenda Doyle, Go for Life which is an initiative from Age and Opportunity that aims to increase participation in physical activity by older people.
On a lighter note, entertainment with a CIS volunteer theme was provided by Mike Roycroft from Nenagh Citizens Information Centre (CIC) with a comic look at the necessary evil of data collection. He was joined by Noel Walsh, Mallow CIC whose talent on guitar was complemented by vocalist Ruthie Corbett.
The event which was compered by Anna O'Flanagan, CIB, concluded with lunch and a chance for volunteers to network with colleagues.
Check out centres.citizensinformation.ie to find your local Citizens Information Centre.
Pictured at the volunteer celebration event were from left: Ita Mangan, Chair, Moira Byrne Wicklow CIS volunteer, Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, Regina Doherty T.D., Angela Black, Chief Executive, Helen Eustace, Kildare CIS volunteer and Zeph Ngaliema, Immigration Advocate, Clondalkin and Lucan CIS.
Eamonn Burgess, NACIS welcomes the volunteers
Ian Coulter, CIB chats with volunteers, Zeph Ngaliema, Clondalkin and Lucan CIS, Brenda Doyle, Go for Life volunteer and Moira Byrne, Wicklow CIS about their experiences.
Liam Casey, Vincent de Paul Society speaks to attendees about his experience as President of the Dublin, Kildare Wicklow region.
Volunteer Celebration attendees.
Sandra McIntyre, Chair, Foróige speaks about volunteering with the largest youth organisation in the country.
Mike Roycroft, Tipperary CIS volunteer entertained the crowd with a song he wrote especially for the occasion.
Noel Walsh, North and East Cork CIS volunteer played guitar while accompanied on vocals by Ruthie Corbett
Anna O Flanagan kept the event running smoothly as compere
CIB staff who helped with the event on the day