The latest news from Westmeath Volunteer Centre

Ian O’Flynn Manager of the Westmeath Volunteer Centre, wins Community Award

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The manager of the Westmeath Volunteer Centre, Ian O’Flynn has won the Irish Security Industry Association’s (ISIA) National Community Person of the Year Award.
Mr Ian O’Flynn from Rochfortbridge was presented with his award by Mr John Curran, Government Chief Whip and Minster of State at Defence at a gala dinner in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dublin on Saturday 20th November 2010. Ian won the award for his response to the severe flooding which hit Athlone town last year and also for his overall commitment his local community.
Speaking at the awards, Mr Martin Crothers, President, ISIA commented: “The very fabric of our society is nurtured and protected by groups and individuals operating outside the security industry but whose commitment and dedication make our communities much safer. The Community Person of the Year Award, sponsored by G4S Secure Solutions is an acknowledgement to the many Irish people who make an effort and contribute to their local communities. This is the hidden but very positive Ireland which the ISIA feel it is important to recognise.”
Ian is the manager of the Westmeath Volunteer Centre and stepped in to co-ordinate the flood response in Athlone last winter. From a town in chaos, Ian co-ordinated a response which saw 550 volunteers arrive to help out, the national media highlighting the plight of Athlone and over £600,000 raised to repair homes and help with the repatriation of those affected. On dry land, he is the chairman of the local soccer team, was a scout leader, a voluntary drama teacher, a community activist and together with his wife Ally ran Rochfortbridge Youth Club for nine years. During this time, he successfully lobbied government to secure €300,000 for the refurbishment of the community hall which has proven a godsend to the local community.
Mr Crothers adds: “Ian’s nomination stated that Ian is a friend to everyone and would never leave a person behind. He is essentially the living definition of “community support” and I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate him on his award.”
Westmeath Volunteer Centre would also like to add our congratulations to Ian for his well deserved award.

European Year of Volunteering 2011

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European Year of Volunteering 2011

Volunteer make a difference

Objectives and expected outcomes of European Year of Volunteering 2011 (EYV 2011)

The messages of the year are two-fold: To celebrate current volunteers for their efforts (recognition), in other words a ‘THANK YOU’ approach; and to empower new people to volunteer (the ‘YOU CAN’ approach) (promotion and facilitation).


The experience of civil society organisations shows that there is a need at all levels - EU, national, regional and local - to increase volunteering and the awareness of the added value it brings to European society, to celebrate volunteers, involve more volunteers and to improve the policy framework on volunteering.


Therefore, four general objectives of the EYV 2011 are:


1) Recognition and awareness raising on the value of volunteering

2) Celebration of volunteer efforts

3) Empowerment of people and volunteer organisations

4) Work towards the creating of an enabling environment for volunteering including a volunteering infrastructure

EYV 2011 & IYV+10: Working together in 2011

The tenth anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers (IYV+10) as well as the European Year of Volunteering (EYV 2011) are conceptually linked together and share many of their goals. The European Year of Volunteering has been designated by the European Union following an extensive lobby process from the growing number of European networks active in volunteering.


The common focus of IYV+10 and EYV 2011 poses an invaluable opportunity to explore synergies and collective initiatives to promote and recognize volunteerism in 2011. EYV 2011 and IYV+10 provide an opportunity for engagement with both the EU and UN policy debates about volunteering and to celebrate and promote volunteering in all its forms through different governmental and non-governmental structures.


Volunteers are encouraged to engage with the activities offered by EYV 2011 and IYV+10 to promote volunteering and improve volunteering infrastructures for volunteer-involving organisations, volunteers and their communities.


Why a European Year of Volunteering in 2011?

More than 100 million Europeans engage in voluntary activities, live solidarity and through this make a difference to our society. A Eurobarometer survey in 2006 revealed that 3 out of 10 Europeans claim to be active in a voluntary capacity and that close to 80% of respondents feel that voluntary activities are an important part of democratic life in Europe.


There is a vast array of notions, definitions and traditions concerning volunteering. However, what is common throughout Europe is that wherever people engage together in activities to help each other, support those in need, preserve our environment, campaign for human rights, or to initiate actions to help ensure that everyone enjoys a decent life - both society as a whole and the individual volunteers benefit and social cohesion is significantly strengthened.


Why volunteering matters:


-          Volunteers are the agents of European values and objectives as laid down in the Treaties, in particular in terms of promoting social cohesion, solidarity, and active participation – theirs are the hands that translate these values into action, day after day;

-          Volunteering contributes to building a European identity rooted in these values and towards attaining a mutual understanding between people in society and across Europe;

-          Volunteering in its horizontal nature is indispensable in a wide range of EU policy areas such as social inclusion, the provision of life-long learning opportunities for all, policies affecting young people, inter-generational dialogue, active aging, integration of migrants, intercultural dialogue, civil protection, humanitarian aid and development, sustainable development and environmental protection, human rights, social service delivery, raising employability, the promotion of an active European citizenship, fighting the "digital gap", and within corporate social responsibility;

-          Volunteering is an economic factor. The voluntary sector contributes an estimated 5% to the GDP of our national economies;

-          Volunteers and their organisations are at the forefront of developing innovative actions to detect, voice and respond to needs arising in society.

-          Volunteers mirror the diversity of European society with people of all ages, women and men, employees and unemployed, people from different ethnic backgrounds and belief groups and finally citizens from all nationalities being involved.

-          However, 7 in 10 people do not volunteer and many people face barriers towards volunteering such as a lack of information on how to become involved; time pressure; scarce economic resources and the feeling of not being able to "afford" to volunteer; a negative image of volunteering stemming from times where volunteering was a rather "compulsory duty"; discrimination; discouraging legal provisions and an absence of a legal status; missing protection against risks involved; visa or other barriers for non EU citizens – to name just a few of these obstacles.


Volunteering is freely given, but not cost free – it needs and deserves targeted support from all stakeholders – volunteer organisations, government at all levels, businesses and an enabling policy environment including a volunteering infrastructure.


While the EU has increasingly paid attention to volunteering in all its forms over recent years, we are still far from a comprehensive strategy and action at the European level to promote, recognize, facilitate and support volunteering in order to realize its full potential.


Events and activites during 2011

There will be a number of national, regional and local events organised during EYV 2011.   Details of these events and activities, can be accessed from your local volunteer centre’s web site. You will be able to find a calendar of events on from Janaury 2011 onwards.


Ways to get involved in EYV 2011

Here are some low cost ways that you and your volunteers to get involved in EYV 2011.


-          Acknowledge the year by featuring the EYV 2011 logo on any materials you may be producing (promotional materials, annual reports, PowerPoint / Keynote presentations, etc.

-          Feature the EYV 2011 in the signature of your outgoing emails.

-          Feature an EYV 2011 banner ad on your web site and link it to your local Volunteer Centre web site.

-          If there are any other items you are producing during the year such as T-shirts why not consider featuring the logo on them.  You can get a copy of the logo in a variety of formats from your local Volunteer Centre.

-          Download one of the EYV 2011 resource and information packs which will be available online in early 2011.  Check your local Volunteer Centre Web site or

-          Your local volunteer centre will have a launch of EYV 2011 in early 2011 where you can meet other volunteer involving organisations in your county and can find out what is going on at a local level.

-          Ask a local celebrity, politican or outstanding member of your community to attend your International Volunteer Day (IVD) event on 5 December to thank your volunteer them for their contribution to your organisation during the year.

-          Why not focus your recruitment drive for volunteers during the year Engage tomorrows volunteers – children and youth.

-          Share information about your local activities with your local volunteer centre, the National Coordinating Body in Ireland (Volunteering Ireland).

-          Why not send some of your volunteers along to attend local, regional or national conferences during the year to say thanks for their dedication

-          Attend Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the year

-          Pay a visit to the EYV 2011 Roadshow, which travelling around Europe and comes to Dublin from Monday 22 to Sunday 28 August 2011, and learn more about good practice in volunteer management, and get to learn more about volunteering across Europe, why not encourage your volunteers to attend as well

-          Encourage Volunteer Managers within your organisation to attend Volunteer Management Training organised by your local Volunteer Centre

-          Create posters, flyers, calendars of activities, stickers and other promotional tools.

-          Make and advertise a list of all the services, which would not exist if they were not accomplished by volunteers

-          Invite people to participatory events where they may plant trees, clean up parks or paint buildings in your community.

-          Develop an EYV 2011 page on your organisation’s web site and highlight the role of volunteer in your organisation.

-          Place EYV 2011 posters and flyers in libraries, government buildings, and community centers in your community

-          Recognise the contribution of the your volunteer managers on International Volunteer Managers Day, November 5

-          Host an event to distribute awards to outstanding volunteers and volunteer initiatives within your organisation

-          Nominate your volunteers for any of the local, regional and national volunteer awards, you can find details on your local volunteer Centre’s web site.

-          Give certificates for volunteer solidarity action during 2011, templates can be downloaded from your local volunteer centre web site.

-          Let the world know about your activities by sending out press releases and inviting the media  

-          Attract media attention through participation in EYV 2011 events and initiatives

-          Appear in various media to talk about volunteer issues or personal volunteer experiences

-          Create and/or contribute to volunteer-related publications

-          Focus your press message on the one issue you want to convey, whether is news about an upcoming event or promotion of an opinion.


The most important thing you can do for EYV 2011 is volunteer!  Here are some volunteer activities you may do to support the Year: 

Humanitarian and solidarity actions

Visiting sick people, donating blood, medicine, visiting children in orphanages and offering help, providing free medical services and vaccinations to the needy, providing free legal advice, giving lessons for free, providing friendship services such as support and counselling, collecting and distributing clothes, shoes, toys or food, helping single mothers and pensioners, providing a hotline for those in distress, helping in farming, providing the elderly in need  with services such as shopping, letter writing, companionship,


Securing sponsorships producing event materials

Donating classroom materials, hospital supplies, machinery, instruments, wheelchairs and other material for disabled, scholarships, IT equipment, charity dinners,


Getting involved in civic and developmental actions

Renovating / building /sponsoring / institutions for the disabled, orphans, pensioners, civic and community centers, schools, hospitals, libraries, playgrounds for city children, infrastructure, Organizing work camps with different goals, cleaning historical sites, renovate places of worship.


Getting involved in environmental activities

Campaigning, pressuring, undertaking and studies, cleaning initiatives, initiating solid waste disposals, ensuring safe water supplies, planting gardens, trees, getting children involved and informed about nature and environment.


Getting involved in educational actions

Transferring knowledge and technical skills, Teaching and literacy campaigns, Maternity and infant care workshops, Training session on health issues - awareness campaigns


Useful web sites

Check the following web sites for useful resources (some of these web sites may not be live until December 2010 or January 2011:


Your local volunteer centre – check the map at for your local centre



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You are invited to the launch of the Westmeath Care and Repair Service at 8pm on Wednesday the 24th of November 2010 in the Grand Hotel, Moate. 


    The Westmeath Care and Repair Service, an entirely volunteer based support service for older people and people with disabilities in Westmeath.  This Service performs minor DIY jobs for them to encourage their independence in their homes.

   Can you please RSVP to let me know if you could attend.  Alternitavely, if you are interested in joining the care and repair team, please let me know!

Countdown to European Year of Volunteering 2011

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Countdown clock showing how long until the European Year of Volunteering in 2011

Sign up for our Newsletter!

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UNICEF needs urgent help this Fri and Sat in Athlone!

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UnicefHi Everyone.
Apologies for posting out of the blue at the last minute!
We have just been given a last minute opportunity to hold a bucket collection this Fri and Sat in Athlone town centre and I was wondering would you know anyone free in that direction who would be free to help out?! They're totally stuck........
Its part of their Believe in Zero campaign that they launched on Friday
Now more than ever, UNICEF Ireland needs to fundraise in the community to save vulnerable children worldwide supported by Unicef programmes. We know that everyday 22,000 children under the age of five die from preventable causes, such as drinking dirty water, not having shelter at night or not getting access to the most basic medical care - everything we now take for granted. We believe that number should be Zero and together we really can achieve this goal. We are asking Ireland to demonstrate that they too Believe in Zero and asking every person to donate a Euro for Zero. Most of our donations will be received by a “SMS text” donation, however we need as much support, publicity and communication of the text number as possible to reach our target of €1 million and our bucket collections are an importnat way for us to suppliment this campaign.
If you can help us here, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and I will forward your number onto Elenor in Unicef!
Again, apologies for the short notice....
Thanks in advance,

Can you help this Halloween?

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Athlone will be holding a Halloween Festival this year from October 29th to October 31st. 

The  official launch will take place on Friday 29th October in Athlone Civic Scare (I mean Square) at 3 p.m. and they need YOUR help.  
If you are available to help out stewarding, scaring or any other way in the festival that would be ghoul, (I mean cool)  :)
To see the full schedule of the festival click fear (I mean here)
If you can help, please let us know, if not, have a happy and safe Halloween and we'll see you soon I hope!!