Foróige held its annual National Volunteer Conference in Sligo - the European capital of volunteering for 2017 - this weekend (3-5th March, 2017).
Hundreds of volunteers travelled from all over Ireland to attend the conference involving keynote speaker John Davis, Professor of Childhood Inclusion at University of Edinburgh; to participate in workshops and exchange ideas on best practice in youth work.
Foróige also launched the results of a survey of 500 Foróige volunteers it conducted this year. The findings included:
- Over 95% of Foróige volunteers feel they benefit from volunteering
- The biggest benefit volunteers gain from volunteering is ‘A greater sense of belonging’
- The biggest challenge facing volunteers working with young people was found to be ‘Too few volunteers’ according to over 31% of respondents
- 89% of volunteers feel youth work needs greater resources
- When asked what aspect of youth work do you think needs greater resources? The largest proportion said ‘more funding for rural youth work’
- The volunteers answered that the greatest benefit of youth work to young people is the ‘Opportunity to express themselves in a safe environment’
Sean Campbell, CEO of Foróige said “the work of youth work volunteers is crucial to the well-being of young people, what this survey shows is that it is also of enormous benefit to the adult volunteers.
“Volunteers feed back to us all the time that helping young people, getting involved in their local community and meeting other volunteers is one of the most positive forces for good in their lives. That amazing feeling you get from giving of your time and energy to something so important really can’t be replicated in any other way.
“Volunteering can reduce stress, help you find friends, teach new skills and even advance your career. Giving to others can also protect your mental health by keeping you mentally stimulated and providing a sense of purpose. We all need connection to others; it’s fantastic that our volunteers gain so much whilst giving to the young people of their communities.
“Without volunteers Foróige simply could not do the work that it does in reaching 50,000 young people each year through clubs, projects and programs like Youth Citizenship, Leadership and Big Brother Big Sister. They have touched so many young lives and empowered young people to develop; express themselves; and achieve things they may never have thought possible.
“We have an amazing army of 6000 volunteers in Foróige, but as the survey shows we need more, especially males. If you would like to make a difference to a young person’s life visit http://www.foroige.ie/volunteer-enquiry and get in touch with us.”
John Davis, Professor of Childhood Inclusion at University of Edinburgh: Moray House School of Education was keynote speaker at the conference. He said “The modern world creates barriers to intergenerational collaboration but some things have lasting value. In a time of greater individualization and political climates that set people and communities against each other, volunteering is a key community resource for young people. Research connects young people’s resilience and positive mental health to having 2 or 3 key adults in their lives who they can bond with, trust, and receive support from. The more mentors, volunteers and kind ears we have in our communities the greater the chance our young people will cope with what life throws at them.
“By generating opportunities for intergenerational learning in local areas, valuing the outdoors, supporting young people to learn new and creative skills and providing mentoring/support, volunteering is the key antidote to the modern age.”
Mr Campbell also pointed to the need for increased funding for rural youth work which volunteers called for. He said “historically investment in youth services across the state has been skewed towards urban areas. We know that young people from rural areas experience many of the same challenges faced by their urban peers such as poverty, drug and alcohol misuse, low self-image, depression and isolation. Putting the supports in place for young people to build resilience and foster personal development in rural communities needs to be prioritised.”
For further information please contact:
Helena Clarke, Foróige Marketing Communications Officer
087 632 5138 / 01 630 1732