European Volunteer Centre Flag visits Westmeath ahead of international conference in Dublin

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Pictured with the CEV Flag are Michelle Raleigh (Westmeath Volunteer Centre) and Anne Campbell (Westmeath Community Development)European Volunteer Centre Flag visits Westmeath ahead of international conference in Dublin
Ahead of an international volunteering conference due to take place in Dublin this week, the European Volunteer Centre (CEV) flag visited Westmeath.

The European Volunteer Centre is the European network of nearly 100 national, regional and local Volunteer Centres and volunteer support agencies across Europe. In the lead up to the CEV General Assembly, the CEV flag toured the network of 22 Volunteer Centres.

This is Ireland’s first time hosting the conference. The General Assembly, which is being organised in cooperation with Volunteer Ireland, will take place in The Citi Building in Dublin on April 18th and 19th. The event will see 122 delegates from over 30 countries in attendance. The event will feature workshops and presentations on building capacity for employee volunteering. The Employee Volunteering European Network (EVEN) will be launched with the support of founding members: FASVOL, Fundacion Telefonica and Intel.

After this week’s event, the CEV flag will be passed to next year’s hosts, Bosnia and Herzegovina, who will host the General Assembly in Sarajevo in October 2013.

Ian O’Flynn, Manager of Westmeath Volunteer Centre said: “We are delighted to celebrate Ireland’s hosting of the CEV General Assembly this week. Employee volunteering is proving increasingly popular with Westmeath employers. The General Assembly is an opportunity for Volunteer Centres across Europe to get together and share learnings on how best to create capacity for staff volunteering projects in the community and voluntary sector. We look forward to, what promises to be, a unique and inspiring event.”

Pictured with the CEV Flag are Michelle Raleigh (Westmeath Volunteer Centre) and Anne Campbell (Westmeath Community Development)

Pictured with the CEV Flag are Michelle Raleigh (Westmeath Volunteer Centre) and Anne Campbell (Westmeath Community Development)

Laughter is truly infectious!

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Why is Laughter Contagious?

June 2012 - Why does one person pick up another's emotions so easily? It seems that human emotions are highly contagious. For example, one person's laughter is soon shared by another's. The explanation is that strong emotions synchronize the brain activity of different individuals according to research by Finland's Aalto University and Turku PET Centre research published in the Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences

Seeing emotional expressions such as smiles and laughter in someone else often triggers a corresponding emotional response in the watcher. This may be a basic element of social interation: synchronyzing a common emotional state in all members of a group whose brains process what they see of the environment around themin a similar fashion.

The Finnish researchers measured brain activity with functional magnetic resonance imaging while participants were looking at short pleasant, neutral and unpleasant movies.The researchers found that strong and unpleasant emotions synchronized participants brains’ emotion processing networks in the frontal and midline regions while highly arousing movies synchronized activity in brain networks supporting vision, attention and sense of touch.

According to Adjunct Professor Lauri Nummenmaa from Aalto University:

"Sharing others’ emotional states provides the observers a somatosensory and neural framework that facilitates understanding others’ intentions and actions and allows to ‘tune in’ or ‘sync’ with them. Such automatic tuning facilitates social interaction and group processes.

WestmeathContagious Laughter

"The results have major implications for current neural models of human emotions and group behaviour, but also deepen our understanding of mental disorders involving abnormal socioemotional processing.

The new study can be compared with with one by researchers at University College (UCL) and Imperial College London published in the Journal of Neuroscience in 2007 showed a possible mechanism for contagious laughter. Positive sounds like laughter trigger a response in the area of the listener's brain activated when we smile, as though preparing facial muscles to laugh.

In an example given in the media release:

"Cricket commentator Jonathan Agnew's description of Ian Botham's freak dismissal, falling over his own stumps 'he couldn't quite get his leg over' was all it took to send himself and the late Brian Johnston into paroxysms of laughter."

Dr Sophie Scott, senior research fellow at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience said:

"It seems that it's absolutely true that 'laugh and the whole world laughs with you'. We've known for some time now that when we are talking to someone, we often mirror their behaviour, copying the words they use and mimicking their gestures. Now we've shown that the same appears to apply to laughter, too - at least at the level of the brain."

Researchers played volunteers various sounds while measuring brain responses using an fMRI scanner. Some sounds were positive, for example laughter or triumph. Others were unpleasant, such as screaming or retching. All triggered a response in the premotor cortical region of the brain, which prepares facial muscles to respond accordingly. However, the response was greater for positive sounds, suggesting that these were more contagious than negative examples. The researchers believe this explains why we respond to laughter or cheering with an involuntary smile.

Sophie Scott commented:

"We usually encounter positive emotions, such as laughter or cheering, in group situations, whether watching a comedy programme with family or a football game with friends. This response in the brain, automatically priming us to smile or laugh, provides a way of mirroring the behaviour of others, something which helps us interact socially. It could play an important role in building strong bonds between individuals in a group."


Admin Assistant LARCC Cancer Centre needed

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LARCC Logo WebAdmin Assistant

LARCC Cancer Centre


What's Involved?

Assistance in keeping website and Facebook page up to date – full training would be given

What's Required for this Position?

Category of skills: Computer/web/ICT; General Admin/Office Support; PR/Marketing/Market Research
Screening details required for the position will include: Curriculum Vitae (CV); Informal Interviews


Main Category: Health/Disability
Age Restrictions:
How many hours per week: 8
Location: LARCC office, Multyfafnham
Commitment Required: 1 day a week
We will provide: Volunteer Induction; Volunteer Training; Volunteer Support; Disability Access;


Are you interested in this opportunity? Please contact Westmeath Volunteer Centre on 044 9348571 or by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.?subject=I%20am%20interested%20in%20Admin%20Assistant-LARCC%20Cancer%20Centre" style="color: rgb(51, 52, 53);">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Greeters for the Gathering are needed!

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This year, The Gathering is here and we are looking for people who like the craic, are willing to help and make a difference.  
If you would like to take part in any event as a meeter and greeter just let us know! 
Also, if you are thinking of staging an event, let us know and through the Westmeath Volunteer Centre we will search for volunteers and stewards!

25 staff to be moved to Garda vetting unit

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imagesTwenty-five civil servants are to be redeployed to the Garda Central Vetting Unit in an attempt to reduce the time people seeking to work with children and vulnerable adults have to wait for clearance.

Vetting processing times currently stand at about 10 weeks, having fallen to as little as three weeks last year before the contracts of temporary staff employed in the unit expired.

The redeployed staff, currently working in the Department of Agriculture, will be moved to the unit’s office in Tipperary town.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter yesterday said the unit was to be rebranded and given an expanded role under the National Vetting Bureau (Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act.

The unit processed some 350,000 applications connected to 20,000 organisations last year.

Association of Garda Sergeants in Ireland president Willie Gleeson said the vetting unit had been under “severe” pressure for years.

The GAA’s child welfare manager Gearóid Ó Maoilmhichíl said a slight delay had been noted in the vetting of some applications and that he was hopeful an online vetting system would come into operation to reduce waiting times.

You can bet on this volunteer

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You can bet on this volunteer

Sunday, January 06, 2013

NEARLY 50 years ago, Betty Wall and her late husband Kevin decided to spend their spare time volunteering for Variety The Children’s Charity to raise money and put "joy on the children’s faces.’’ But it soon became their life mission. 

"I have loved every minute of it. My husband was a very soft and kind man and he used to say, ‘Bet, this is what makes it all worthwhile’ to see the joy.’ It is a lot of work, it has been challenging but it has been so worthwhile,’’ says Betty, now aged 80, from Howth, Co Dublin.

This month Betty was "highly honoured’’ to win the 2012 Volunteer Ireland Award in the Heath and Disability category, acknowledging her hard work over the years. 

So what makes a good volunteer? "Dedication," she says immediately. "It is the one word we use all the time. We get people who say they will come when we are holding our Gold Heart collecting days, promising to help. 

"But then they don’t turn up. So somebody else is left standing there for four hours instead of two, unable to go to the loo or even get a cup of tea.

"A volunteer has to be dedicated and they have to do it for the love of the cause. I believe it is giving a little back.’’ 

Over the years, Betty and her team of helpers have organised special lunches, balls and receptions to raise money for Variety to purchase their special Sunshine buses for the children. At a cost of €35,000 each, that is a lot of fundraising. 

"I must be the best beggar in Ireland,’’ she says, laughing. "When people see me coming they must say: ‘Oh no, here she is again.’ But I don’t mind asking and the older I get the less inhibitions I have. They can say; ‘No’ and I don’t take it personally. But people are so wonderful. I still can’t believe I had the cheek to ask all the people. If you think about it you wouldn’t do it. But we do have fun and the children are the winners in the end.’’ 

A few years ago, after seeing a "Liberty Swing’’ in Australia, which enables wheelchair-bound children to swing, Betty and her husband Kevin were determined to raise enough money to import them to Ireland. 

"We had noticed that when a child in a wheelchair came to a playground, they were the ones that needed it most to be able to have fun, yet they were still sitting on the sidelines watching others play. It nearly broke my husband’s heart. 

"So when we saw the Liberty swing we had never seen anything like that at all. To see the joy on the children’s faces and them being able to move, it is very special,’’ she says. 

The first Liberty Swing arrived in Ireland in 2009 and now there are nine others across the country. 

Betty’s "life mission’’ is to have a swing in every county in Ireland. 

"I am working with the county councils to get more in. This is my main ambition. They cost between €15-€17,000, as the installation has to be so accurate," she says. 

Sadly, Kevin, died last year just before their 50th wedding anniversary. Betty knows he would be so proud that she is still volunteering and of her award. Now her three children and seven grandchildren all help out too. 

"They are very proud of me and I am so delighted. But I honestly thought no one would ever notice the work we were doing. It has bought us a lot of joy,’’ she says.

Launch of the European Year of Citizens 2013

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Your chance to participate in the launch of the European Year of Citizens 2013 and a Citizens' Dialogue with European leaders, Dublin, 10 January 2013

European Year of Citizens 2012 logo

Launch of the European Year of Citizens 2013 

Citizens’ Dialogue

10 January 2013

with the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD; President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso; Tánaiste, Eamon Gilmore TD; Vice-President of the European Commission, Ms Viviane Reding and Minister of State for European Affairs, Lucinda Creighton TD

Dublin City Hall, Dame Street, Dublin 2
Date & Time
Thursday, 10 January 2013
Registration and lunch from 12.30; European Year launch and Citizens’ Dialogue to commence at 14.30
To celebrate the designation of 2013 as the European Year of Citizens, and to mark the launch of the year, the Department of the Taoiseach and the European Commission are delighted to present you with the opportunity to participate in the Citizens’ Dialogueevent, taking place in Dublin during the Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU.

This event will provide interested citizens with a unique opportunity to attend the launch of the European Year of Citizens with the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny TD; the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore TD and the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso.  Following the launch, you will have the opportunity to engage in a Citizens’ Dialogue – a frank and open exchange of opinions on the current economic crisis, the rights of European citizens and the future of the European Union - with Vice-President of the European Commission, Ms Viviane Reding and Minister of State for European Affairs, Lucinda Creighton TD.
Want to be a part of this?
Application to attend this event is open to all citizens.  However, due to the limited number of available places, and the high demand anticipated, if you are interested in attending, we kindly request that you visit fill in the short Expression of Interest form there.  This form is also available to download as a PDF and can be posted to Citizens’ Dialogue, European Movement Ireland, 6 Merrion Square, Dublin 2.  Please feel free to forward this diary notice to your network.  Invitations will be issued following submission of the Expression of Interest form.

Please feel free to contact the EM Ireland team with any queries you have:  
T: + 353 (0) 1 662 5815   E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

European Year of Citizens 2013 logo
Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU 2013 logo
European Commission logo
Learn more about this event by visiting