Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey today paid tribute to the vital and tireless work of voluntary and community organisations in response to COVID-19.
The Minister said: “I know that many organisations have been working tirelessly, day and night, and in many cases, those on the ground are the community’s ‘first responders’ – volunteers, community workers and grassroots organisations are working incredibly hard to support the most vulnerable in their communities. This goes to the heart of who we are – we Help Each Other, especially in times of need.
“I want to also acknowledge the fantastic work sporting organisations and local sports clubs are doing to help their communities, using their great volunteer networks and skills to help people beyond their usual networks.”
The Minister said that it was now important that groups plan ahead to ensure volunteers have the opportunity to take breaks and look out for their own health and wellbeing.
She added: “4,000 people have already registered for the #HelpEachOther campaign and Volunteer Now has now temporarily paused new registrations to this campaign to focus on matching these individuals to suitable volunteer roles.
“In the meantime, I would appeal to anyone who is keen to contribute to our collective response to continue to help family, friends and neighbours who are shielding. I want to encourage organisations in the sector to connect with those who have stepped forward, bring ‘fresh legs’ into the game and allow some recovery time for existing volunteers.
“It will be important as the emergency continues, to train and familiarise new volunteers with community groups’ work and networks. I encourage groups to do this now by recruiting new volunteers to shadow experienced volunteers on your team.
“Volunteer Now is on hand to offer support in using their online resources, including matching with suitable volunteers, providing your organisation with training, guidance and advice on insurance and legal obligations.”
The Minister concluded: “Again, I want to thank all of you who are working so hard at the frontline, all of those people who have offered their time and energy to help, and assure you that my Department will continue to do all it can to support you to make a difference.”