The Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council today paid a warm tribute to the local community volunteers who have become the driving force behind the City and District's response to the COVID-19 emergency.
Councillor Michaela Boyle took the opportunity to acknowledge the remarkable effort ahead of Volunteers Week which runs next week from June 1-7. Council’s main building on Strand Road in Derry and the Tinnies sculpture in Strabane will be lit up in recognition of Volunteers Week from June 1-7, to reflect the City and District's support.
The event is being led locally by the North West Volunteer Centre (NWVC), which works to connect people with volunteering opportunities, and has just published a special report highlighting the benefits of volunteering. 'Volunteering – Living Your Best Life' captures the experiences of 75 local volunteers, and was produced as part of the CLEAR Project, supported by the Public Health Agency.
NWVC are now calling on local people to share their stories and experiences of volunteering at this challenging time as part of the Volunteers Week campaign.
Looking ahead Mayor Boyle said it was fitting that local volunteers should be celebrated in the same way as frontline workers during the current crisis. "Since the beginning of the COVID-19 emergency Derry and Strabane's Community and Voluntary sector has just gone into overdrive and an army of volunteers have mobilised to sustain the community response here.
"People have been so generous with their time and have really rallied to support their local communities through the delivery of a wide range of services. This is a difficult time for everyone, and to see such compassion and kindness really demonstrates the strength of community spirit here in Derry and Strabane.
"I am delighted to have this opportunity as I near the end of my time in office to extend my personal thanks to all local volunteers. And I would like to encourage anyone who is considering volunteering to read the report and get in touch with the North West Volunteer Centre to see how they can help."
Throughout the week a number of key themes around volunteering will be highlighted each day to raise awareness of the many different ways people can contribute, including: Listening & Support; Young People; Fundraising; COVID-19 Response Community Action; Nature & Conservation; Arts & Culture; Sports.
Manager of the North West Volunteer Centre, Jacqui Garnon, said this year Volunteers Week will be celebrated in a much different format, with a stronger online focus.
"Throughout the week we want to raise awareness of the wide variety of volunteering opportunities on offer and the many benefits to both the volunteer and those they are helping. This year we have had to celebrate the week in a different way due to COVID-19 but the current situation also amplifies the message that volunteering has a vital role to play in our society. Volunteers have played such an important part in the community response to the current crisis and so many people have stepped up to protect the most vulnerable.
"Next week I would encourage people to celebrate the efforts being made by local volunteers, not just during this current emergency, but in a wide spectrum of areas. And I hope it will encourage people to find out more about how they could benefit from the volunteering experience. Benefits include becoming more active, building connections with others, playing a valuable part in the local community, personal fulfilment and learning opportunities and these are benefits that can be enjoyed by all ages."
The North West Volunteer Centre is core funded by the Department of Communities under the Volunteer Infrastructure Support Programme and also receives funding from Derry and Strabane District Council's Grant Aid Programme.
To find out more about NWVC and the volunteering opportunities available go to https://www.volunteeringnorthwest.co.uk/