In attendance at Thursday’s DCU Volunteer Expo, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny praised students for affirming and taking forward the spirit of volunteerism which he believes is deeply engrained in the Irish psyche.
“I’m surprised at the energy here, I’ve heard from a number of students in different outlets and there’s great participation”, Taoiseach Kenny said after engaging with students from the DCU branch of the Society of St Vincent De Paul.
“Volunteering and community effort is something that’s very strong in the Irish personality…. This is an indication that’s not lost in Ireland and that students want to help others in different spheres.”
Staff and students visiting the exhibition heard of the benefits of volunteering and how they can get involved with a range of organisations, including the Fighting Words literacy programme and Focus Ireland.
One body hoping to recruit on the day was Irish overseas development charity Gorta. Representative Don Lucey said they were simply looking for people “with a passion for volunteering”, to get involved in a range of activities from working in their shop to completing three-month internships in their Dublin office.
Many organisations spoke of the transferrable skills and personal development volunteerism prompts, with Taoiseach Kenny commenting that “these add to anybody’s CV. Employers want to know that you’re focussed on helping others around you.”
This was a sentiment echoed by Liz Martin of Special Olympics Leinster. She explained how her organisation gives a great deal of responsibility to volunteers, overseeing the experienced form teams to deliver events for their several participants nationwide. “They manage our volunteers and we give them the support and approval they need… we constantly have people giving great feedback on the process… It helps develop communication and teamwork skills.”
Also seeking volunteers for local club work and fundraising efforts, Liz revealed how there are almost 150 clubs between the Leinster and Dublin regions. She also stressed how anyone can get involved: “It’s really nice for bringing people together… I know we are a sporting organisation but you don’t necessarily need to have expertise in sports”.
Another organisation with a presence at the event was CoderDojo, who run youth coding clubs. Representatives Stephen and Alan were hoping to get some more mentors on their books, explaining that their campus branch has grown to become the second biggest of the clubs in the country. Based at DCU, the group hold three weekly two-hour sessions for young people aged 8- 17, including one specifically for girls, with female mentors.
The 2013 DCU Volunteer Expo was held as part of the university’s ‘Give it a go week’, which also saw the Clubs and Societies Fair take place from Monday to Wednesday.
Image Credit: Maxwell Photography