We are a nation characterised by high levels of community participation and committed volunteering.
The charity, community and voluntary sector is driven by the spirit of volunteerism and participation. Research by the Central Statistics Office (2013) shows that over a quarter of people aged 15 and over volunteer every year in Ireland, and that the value of this incredible voluntary work is over €2bn per year. The Charities Regulator reported in 2018 that over 300,000 people volunteer for registered charities every year and that the value of this volunteering for charities is over 1.5 Billion Euro per anum.
Research published by Volunteer Ireland provides insights into the positive impact that volunteering has on people’s overall health and well-being. High levels of community participation are associated with high levels of physical and mental wellbeing amongst populations. In Wellbeing Matters: A Social Report for Ireland, by the National Economic and Social Council (NESC) describes well-being as being about a positive physical, social and mental state. The Wellbeing Matters report highlights the importance of the individual’s sense of purpose and ability to participate in society as key components of well-being.
From all of the above, we can see that people participate in community life by joining in organized community activity and this is where the community and voluntary sector plays a big part in sustaining healthy and happy communities in Ireland. The sector provides opportunities for people to get involved in common purpose with fellow citizens through volunteering their time and energy, passion and commitment.
A legislative, policy and political environment that supports voluntary activity, in all its guises, will help us to create the vibrant, inclusive and sustainable communities of place and interest that will underpin a fairer and more just Ireland.
What Are We Working On?
We are working, in partnership with Volunteer Ireland, to encourage Government to produce a Strategy on Volunteering, which both acknowledges the huge impact that volunteering has on individual and community wellbeing and which creates the conditions for it to be easier for people to give their time to the causes they are passionate about.
We welcome Minister Ring’s stated intention to publish a national plan to support volunteering and the ‘infrastructure’ that sustains and nurtures it, during 2018. We ask Government to ensure that this is positioned as a critically important element of an integrated over-arching strategy for the sector.