30 Individuals and 3 Groups To Be Honoured at Volunteer Ireland Awards in December

From over 500 nominations, 30 exceptional volunteers and 3 outstanding groups of volunteers have been shortlisted for this year’s Volunteer Ireland Awards including Hamid Abduli Ali, James Dempsey and Suzanne O’Neill all from South Dublin County. These national awards will celebrate Ireland’s unsung heroes at a special ceremony in Sligo, the 2017 European Volunteering Capital, in December. One exceptional volunteer will be named Ireland’s Volunteer of the Year.

This year marks an extremely special year for the Volunteer Ireland Awards. Not only are they celebrating their tenth year, they will also form part of the prestigious closing ceremony of Sligo’s designation as European Volunteering Capital.

The awards aim to celebrate the extraordinary dedication that nominees have shown to help others, often taking time away from family and friends to give back. From those new to Ireland, husband and wife duos and local community stalwarts, we are lucky enough to have so many exceptional volunteers in Ireland.

These nominees are just a perfect example:

Hamid, a young migrant from Afghanistan, volunteers in the Tallaght Intercultural Drop-In Centre (TIC). He has progressed from being a recipient of English lessons to becoming a volunteer support worker. He has a very strong commitment to the volunteer role and his dedication is particularly significant as he has had to overcome major difficulties in moving as a lone migrant from war torn Afghanistan, in addition to dealing with a physical disability, language and cultural barriers. His patient and cheerful attitude helps put participants at ease and facilitates their integration into Irish society.

James started out in The Big Picture on a TUS scheme managing the door and building. He went above and beyond in this role, a trait he has carried with him while volunteering. He transitioned to volunteer in the Youth Cafe in January 2016. During the last 20 months, he has been one of the most consistent volunteers in the youth cafe. The three hours a week he gives to the young people are for some of them, the highlight of the week. His bubbly and welcoming personality shines through and puts all young people at ease, whether established participants of the cafe or having just walked through the door.

Suzanne has been volunteering in the Community Garden in Sean Walsh Park for over 7 years. A qualified horticulturist, she uses her expertise to give advice and guidance on maintaining the garden, which is a social outlet and safe space for those in unemployment. She has had a huge impact in an area that is high in deprivation and poverty with rates of unemployment above the national levels. She works with a group of 20 people (continuously growing in numbers) in a non- threatening and safe environment. She has created a social outlet for people and friendships have grown as a result.

Commenting on the shortlist for the Volunteer Ireland Awards, South Dublin County Volunteer Centre Manager Tricia Nolan said “Thousands of people across the country volunteer each day, giving their time without asking for anything in return. This year’s shortlist really captures the breadth and variety of volunteering that takes place throughout Ireland – often going unnoticed. We are particularly lucky in this area to have exceptional volunteers like Hamid, James and Suzanne who help our community thrive. The awards allow us to really celebrate and showcase everything that these volunteers do but most of all they give us an opportunity to say thank you.”

For more information on the Volunteer Ireland Awards 2017 or to read the inspiring stories of the shortlisted volunteers, see the attached document or visitwww.volunteer.ie