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It’s official. Volunteering is good for you!

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Slide6It’s official. Volunteering is good for you! 

While we have long been proponents of the positive impact that volunteering can have on individuals and communtities, the OECD has now placed volunteering at the heart of its latest research.  A new report, How’s Life?, describes the essential ingredients that shape people’s wellbeing in OECD and partner countries. It includes a wide variety of statistics, including capturing a range of data on volunteering.

Given the varied nature of data collection and definitions of volunteering across the OECD, concrete data can be hard to collate. However, it is clear that there are a number of universal benefits to volunteering felt across all OECD countries. 

When we think of volunteering we often think of the benefit to the service user or even charities. But what about the impact on the volunteer? According to the OECD, the impact is pretty significant.

Volunteering helps people to acquire new skills, which supports their personal development and often has benefits in their professional life. Anecdotal links have always been drawn between volunteering and increased employability - and there’s no denying that volunteering is great way to develop skills. According to How’s life? Those who volunteer have higher skills and in some cases can earn up to 14% more than non-volunteers. 

On a more subjective level, the 2013 American Time Use survey explored the correlation between happiness and volunteering activities. Those that volunteered reported higher levels of life satisfaction and on average experienced an extra hour of happiness a day on days when they volunteered. The connection between volunteering and health and wellbeing cannot be understated. Volunteering is a unique way to give back to the community and provides many volunteers with a sense of purpose and satisfaction.

It allows the volunteer to make a real difference in their local area, to meet new people and to interact with people from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Slide8Statistics like the above are great and can provide us with hard data, but what about real life? A great example of the real impact of volunteering can be seen with Western Care, a group for adults with intellectual disabilities in Ballina. They now volunteer with the local Arts Centre as promotional assistants. They love volunteering as they take up genuine and meaningful roles in their local communities where they get to know people and “be known” in their own right as individuals and they also enjoy chatting with people around town. Volunteering has made a significant positive impact on their lives.

Many people would like to volunteer but are yet to take the first step. With such a wealth of benefits and nothing to lose, why delay? Visit www.volunteerwestmeath.ie or contact Michelle Raleigh at 044-9348571 to start your volunteering journey today.

About the Discount Card

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WestmeathVolunteer Centre is delighted to announce that we are launching a new volunteer discount card scheme in association with Westmeath Community Development.


WHAT IS THE VOLUNTEER DISCOUNT CARD?

We believe passionately that volunteering is good for people and good for society - a win-win! We also believe that volunteering should be recognised and rewarded.

As part of our role in supporting and rewarding volunteering in Westmeath, we are launching a new discount card scheme for volunteers.

The idea behind the card is that local businesses will offer various 'rewards' and incentives to people who volunteer in the community, such as discounts off the purchase of products and other reductions including 2 for the price of 1 offers.

This is a great and unique opportunity for you as a local community group to thank your volunteers for their contributions, to promote your organisation as a good place to volunteer and to attract new volunteers to your organisation.

In 2015, we will launch the card and publish a list of participating local businesses and the 'rewards' they are offering to our local volunteers.


HOW MUCH DO THE CARDS COST?

They are completely free! Westmeath Volunteer Centre will provide your organisation with the number of cards that you require. All that we ask is that you fill in this simple registration form.

We only ask that you just supply the cards to current, active volunteers within your organisation.


WHEN WILL IT LAUNCH? 

We will officially launch the cards in Summer 2015 and be valid until end 2016.


WHY SHOULD MY ORGANISATION SIGN UP? 

·         It's a good way for you to publicly thank and reward your volunteers for what they give to your organisation.

·         It's free!

·         It's simple - we just ask you to sign up and we will suppy you with the cards that you in turn give to your volunteers!

·         It's good for Westmeath- volunteers are being encouraged to shop locally and support local businesses


HOW DO I SIGN UP?

Right now, we are trying to get a sense of how many cards we should print for community groups in Westmeath.

You can help us by clicking on this link and filling in this simple sign up sheet, including telling us how many cards you think you will require for your volunteers.

We will get back to you later this summer with more details and your cards!


LOOKING FOR MORE INFORMATION?

Contact Ian O'Flynn in the Volunteer Centre at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or call us on 044-9348571

 

If you have an offer that you wish to add to this scheme, please click here

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Volunteer Discount Card - Recognising Volunteers

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As part of our drive to recognise volunteers and the work they do in our community, the Westmeath Volunteer Centre (WVC) is launching their Volunteer Credits System (VCS).

Through the VCS, we hope that ALL companies and firms in Westmeath can put a value on the work that volunteers do in their community and give them the recognition they deserve. Many groups and clubs have no funds to buy thank you cards or even buy volunteers a cup of tea and this is where we hoped YOU can help.

Consider this, If you valued 10 hours voluntary work as equalling €5 (Actually, research has suggested that the roles volunteers play as being equal to €21 per hour!), would you not consider offering a volunteer a free coffee with their sandwich? Or a percentage off your services or percentages off their purchases? Every company in Westmeath, potentially has volunteers who will shop there every day. That little bit of recognition to them could have more of an effect than any advertisement.volunteer_card

All of the recognition deals for volunteers could be offers that your business already offers. However, volunteers will visit knowing that your business gives these deals!

The VCS will be totally managed by the Volunteer Centre whereby a Volunteer will earn a credit for 10 hours Voluntary work. Every business that recognises volunteers will be listed in a handbook that every volunteer has and they can “Cash in” their credit in these businesses.

So, how about it? What would your company see as an offer to volunteers as a way of recognising the work they do?

To add a product — Click Here!

Some examples are on the page. Please email ian@volunteerwestmeath.ie or call 086-1743470 if you feel you can join in this exciting and mutually beneficial project.

Westmeath Volunteer Centre was established in 2006 to meet the needs of those volunteers looking for opportunities and groups needing volunteers. The centre is funded by the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government. It acts as a broker to volunteers and volunteer engaging groups to improve the quality of volunteering in Westmeath.

Recognising and Valuing Volunteers

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Care and Repair Launch 2014aWhat do we mean by recognising and valuing volunteers? 

Volunteers don’t start because they’re expecting a reward but it is important that your organisation or group celebrates and values what the volunteers have done. 

Acknowledging the contribution made by volunteers shows that your organisation or group appreciates their input and commitment. Doing this can help volunteers feel valued and supported. 

If volunteers feel appreciated they are more likely to stay with your organisation. It doesn’t have to cost a lot but it needs to be regular, personal and not favour a small number of volunteers. 

How do I recognise my volunteers and make them feel valued? 

If it’s possible, how you recognise volunteers should be specific to the individual rather than the same for everyone across your organisation. Some volunteers don’t want public thanks and just like to know that what they’re doing has helped others. Volunteers might be based at home and can’t get to an event or location. They might also find the thought of an event a bit overwhelming. Also, some volunteers appreciate an award for long service but you also need to value the input that someone gives that’s there for a short time. 

You don’t have to include all the suggestions below, but it is a good idea to think about some of the following areas to make sure that the contribution of volunteers is recognised. 

Be prepared for volunteers arriving

 

First impressions count. When you advertise for new volunteers make sure you return their calls promptly and keep to the recruitment timescales that you have set. It makes a difference to a volunteer if you listen to what they want from the volunteering experience and match them to a role that is suited. 

Letting volunteers know that their work makes a difference can be motivating and rewarding

Think about how you could measure the impact of your volunteers.

This type of feedback enables volunteers to understand the impact that they have had on improving health outcomes. For example, a charity for the homeless in Scotland put stickers on the envelopes of letters sent out by their fundraising volunteers. This way, when funds come in they are able to tell volunteers directly the money raised through their contribution. 

Trusting volunteers

Giving volunteers a new task with a different role, or more responsibility, demonstrates trust. Trusting volunteers is an important way to show volunteers that you value and recognise their contribution.

Saying thank you

Sometimes a simple thank you is all the recognition that a volunteer wants. This can be informally in person, by telephone, by email, in a Christmas card or formally at the annual general meeting. You may also choose to write articles about volunteer tasks or profile specific volunteers for newsletters, newspapers or volunteer’s week.

However you decide to do this it should be consistent and fair. But remember the same thanks every time can end up being tokenistic, so be sure to be personal, genuine, timely and specific. 

Keeping volunteers informed

Volunteers can feel valued if they are kept up to date about what is happening with the organisation. Some organisations have started to use social media and set up blogs, or have dedicated pages for volunteers on their website. 

Creating an identity

There are lots of different ways that you can do this. Being given clothing to wear and relevant equipment whilst doing their role helps volunteers feel part of the team. For example, some heritage volunteers said that having a ‘volunteer’ identity badge often helps the public appreciate that they are volunteers, and as such this gains respect.

Volunteer events

Providing time for volunteers to get together socially is a good way to acknowledge their contribution and keep them inspired. Meeting new people gives volunteers a chance to share their experience, hear about what others do, feel part of the larger team of volunteers and maybe think about doing more roles in the organization.

Acknowledging the people behind your volunteers

 

Sometimes inviting the family and friends of the volunteer to events can be a great way to show your appreciation to those who support or enable your volunteers to participate. This does not have to be costly, for example it may just be a ‘bring your own’ picnic or games in the park.

Access to training

A volunteer may value being able to attend training for development purposes (this has to be relevant to the delivery of the role so it’s not considered a perk in lieu of payment). This is especially important for volunteers who are looking to develop their CV or boost their employability skills. This can be done face to face or online. Volunteers might value being invited to attend a seminar, convention, or meeting at the organisation’s representative, as it demonstrates to them that they are trusted volunteers.

Being honest in feedback

Sometimes volunteering is not always positive and as an organisation or group you may have to give volunteers constructive criticism. The best way to give feedback is to be specific, focus on the requirements of the role, give real examples, and make sure it is not too long after an incident or issue arises. Know what you want to achieve and have some suggestions about how you think this could be done. Let volunteers talk and discuss their suggestions. Be prepared to be flexible. Being honest is a positive way to build mutual trust with your volunteers.

Involving volunteers in consultation

 

Involving volunteers in planning and shaping volunteering practice can show volunteers that you value their opinion and views. You could have an anonymous suggestion box, invite volunteers onto the relevant committee, ask for comments by email or set up a volunteer forum. Be sure to acknowledge their involvement where you can.

Volunteer awards

Some organisations nominate volunteers for their in house awards ceremonies. This could be for team effort, length of time in service, inspiring volunteer or even a life time commitment award. You could nominate volunteers for external awards through their local volunteer centre. However, it is important if you chose to have awards that you find ways to recognise those who do not get nominated. You should also consider how to recognise volunteers who are not able to attend an awards ceremony.

Accommodating needs

 

Show empathy and try to adapt roles or activities to suit your volunteers. This is most effective when you ask how you can help, instead of implementing change without taking into consideration a volunteer’s views and opinions.

Saying goodbye

Although it is important to keep volunteers once you have supported them into their role it is also important to remember that most volunteers will eventually leave. Thank them for their time and let them go with gratitude.

Providing a reference

Sometimes you may be requested to provide a reference for a volunteer if they are moving into paid work, education or another volunteering role.

 

What next?

If you are unsure whether your volunteers feel appreciated, ask them! Some organisations carry out an annual survey 

with volunteers to find out if the support and recognition they are providing is appropriate.

You might also find it helpful to create a recognition policy so you’re clear about how you recognise and value volunteers. It is important to make sure staff and committee members understand that investing in recognising and valuing volunteers benefits the organisation. A valued volunteer can become a great ambassador for your organisation and can help to attract new volunteers.

This article was originally posted by Volunteer Scotland and all credits to them for it.

 

Iarnród Éireann to Offer Free Trips for Community, Voluntary & Charity Groups in 2014

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THE JOURNEY’S ON US!

IARNRÓD ÉIREANN TO OFFER FREE TRIPS FOR COMMUNITY, VOLUNTARY & CHARITY GROUPS IN 2014

Iarnród Éireann Irish Rail has today launched the 2014 programme for The Journey’s on Us, an initiative to support organisations and groups in the voluntary, community, sporting and charity sector.

“The Journey’s On Us”, will provide 100 groups with a free group travel return journey for up to 50 people per group during 2014, meaning 5,000 free journeys are on offer across the company’s services.  The travel facilities will be ideal in particular for organisations bringing a group to a special event, or as part of a specific support to the members of the group which requires travel. 

Iarnród Éireann Chief Executive David Franks said “Voluntary organisations are the life blood of communities across the country.  However, like everyone, their budgets have been cut.  We know there are youth, sports, music, voluntary, charity and other groups in the community who would benefit greatly from being able to undertake initiatives which involve a travel cost, but have had to scale back.  We in Iarnród Éireann, through The Journey’s On Us, want to do what we can to help such groups achieve their goals, and say thank you to the organisations which play such a vital role in the daily lives of communities.  The initiative is now in its third year with the interest and amount of groups applying has grown significantly each year, which we are absolutely delighted with.”

The company has today invited all community, voluntary, sporting and charity groups to apply for the 100 group travel trips available. Entry forms are available at all Ianród Éireann stations or online at www.irishrail.ie/journeys . Entry forms can be filled out online, emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by post to Corporate Communications, Iarnród Éireann, Connolly Station, Dublin 1. The closing date for receipt of entries is Monday 14th July, at 16.30hrs.

Last year, over 750 groups applied for the scheme, and organisations ranging from Men’s Sheds to choirs, Special Olympics to Girl Guides, and groups representing youth and elderly, benefited from ‘The Journey’s on us’.  Last year we offered for the first a special Prize for the winning group that submitted the most interesting and inspirational account of their day travelling with us.  The winner of the prize was Special Hands Activity Group from Kelly, Co. Meath.

The initiative is being supported nationally by RTÉ Radio 1’s Mooney Show, and Brenda Donohue is joining customers and staff at Ceannt Railway Station, Galway today to launch “Journey’s on Us” 2014.  They were joined by Galway Community Circus who were a winner of one of the trips last year.   The Mooney Show will also feature successful groups throughout the year.

All applications will be considered by an adjudicating panel and successful groups will be notified from July onwards.

For further information and to see terms and conditions please log onto www.irishrail.ie/journeys 

Music Project Administrator Internship

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Role: Music Project Administrator

Learner outcome

The intern will gain practical experience in a busy office that is current at early implementation stage of a national music initiative. Additional experience will be gained through associated administration duties of this and other initiatives.

The intern will receive informal training in systems, administration, data management, customer support and event management.  

On completion the intern will have attained skills in: driving forward a significant and unique music project, best practice within a large corporate structure, development of promotional collateral, engagement with a wide variety of stakeholders, IT skills, writing skills and administration skills.

Person Specification 

The intern will be an extremely organised self-starter who wishes to build on their existing organisational and administration skills to assist in the efficient running of an exciting Music Project.

The intern will be required to think on their feet, take initiative and coordinate complex aspects of this and other projects. The intern will be based in Mullingar but with the possibility of travel outside of the town.

Duration

39 weeks / 9 months

Hours per week

35

Qualification Details 

This position would ideally suit an intern with a qualification in music, administration, accounts, IT, business, digital media and project management.

How to Apply 

Send your CV and a 1-page cover letter, outlining your reasons for applying to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  by April 10th, 2014.

Please refer to www.jobbridge.ie for details of this scheme and to ensure that you meet the criteria for the scheme.

This job is a full-time internship, however consideration may be given to part-time options depending on the candidate’s circumstances. 

Midland Dyspraxia bag pack - help needed.

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Hello Friends, 

Midlands Dyspraxia Support Group are having a Bag Pack on the 7th of March to raise funds to support Midlands Dyspraxia Support Group, coleections will be taking place in Tesco's, Ashe Road, Mullingar, Co.Westmeath. Volunteers are required to do a two hour shift on the day.

If anyone would like to volunteer for just  two hours please let us know or contact Gaynor at the contact details below.

Dyspraxia Mullingar is a non profit support group supporting people and families who have dyspraxia / dcd and other overlapping conditions. We are affiliated to Dcd Ireland.