Volunteer Ireland
Connecting Communities Through Volunteering

Large Group Awardees 2020

We are so proud to announce this years winners in the Large Group Category. This year we are celebrating three outstanding volunteer groups in each category.

Read each of their inspiring stories below.

ALONE Telephone Support and Befriending Volunteers, Nationwide

ALONE’s Telephone Support provides telephone contact to an older person from a volunteer. It is a free, friendly support and information telephone service and ensures that recipients are safe and well in their home.

Volunteers provide companionship and support such as appointment reminders, medication prompts, and information on local activities and relevant initiatives. The ALONE Telephone Support and Befriending Service covers 26 counties in Ireland, making around 2,000 calls each week, Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm.

Since COVID-19 the demand for the service has risen dramatically. ALONE created a third service based in Kilkenny to assist those already in existence in Donegal and Dundalk. Within a matter of months, the Kilkenny service is at full capacity with around 70 volunteers involved.

The Telephone Support and Befriending volunteers rose to the occasion with such willingness and empathy for the older people of Ireland. These volunteers often went above and beyond their regular role, doing multiple shifts each week to ensure no older person went without a call. Quite simply, ALONE would not be able to provide the service it does to older people in Ireland on a weekly basis without this group of extremely dedicated volunteers.

Muslim Sisters of Eire, Dublin

Muslim Sisters of Eire is a grassroots non-profit all female organization, established in July 2010. Muslim Sisters of Eire’s mission and purpose is to empower and educate migrant women through civic engagement and poverty relief. Volunteers come from immigrant backgrounds.

The group has been working closely with many direct provision centres across Ireland for their yearly projects including toy drives and ongoing refuge outreach and integration support. Their longest project is the weekly feeding of the homeless outside the GPO every Friday.

The group’s soup run in Dublin currently serves up to 500+ people per week. Due to lockdown and the increasing unemployment rate during COVID-19 pandemic, they have had to adapt their services to support those in need. Muslim Sisters of Eire has supported many recently laid off families and cocooning individuals during the COVID-19 crisis who are struggling to afford basic necessities and some who are in self-isolation and cannot come out to collect what they need without putting others at risk.

They provided weekly hampers for families who fall into these categories. They are serving 60+ families on an ongoing basis with weekly food hampers and grocery vouchers to assist them through this rough time, and to support Dublin’s most vulnerable.

The group are providing poverty relief, female empowerment and breaking down barriers all at the same time. They are a team full of compassion and empathy. They support those in need on a shoestring budget.

Serve the City, Dublin

Serve the City Dublin volunteered with the South Dublin Community Response Forum in responding to the needs of vulnerable person in South County Dublin during the national COVID-19 lockdown.

Serve the City volunteers played a central role in helping vulnerable groups and individuals. During the height of the COVID-19 lockdown they responded to the need of 1,000’s of families and individuals who were cocooning and who required supports with the collection and delivery of food, essential household items, fuel, medication etc.

Serve the City are a completely volunteer-led organisation. Despite the lack of paid staff, they provided a very professional service during the initial lockdown. They mobilized a huge army of volunteers in South Dublin County (mainly serving those isolated in Tallaght and Clondalkin). Their volunteers signed up and were matched to vulnerable adults who were unable to do their shopping. Volunteers shopped on a weekly or twice weekly basis for those who were vulnerable and cocooning, providing a valuable service as well as providing a listening ear and much needed social interaction.

STC normally provide a service such as painting and gardening for older people. This large scale change in service and enhanced recruitment and management of volunteers required Serve the City to think on their feet, develop new processes and procedures around keeping people safe and be creative in how they screened and selected people (working closely with volunteer centres). STC carried this out with aplomb – engaging over 80 volunteers in their community call shopping service.