Outstanding Group Shortlist 2019

Dún na Sí Amenity and Heritage Park

Wesmeath

In 2008, a group of volunteers came together and won the 27 acre land from the County Council that is now known as Dún na Sí Amenity and Heritage Park. A not for profit driven by volunteerism, they have already cleared their €400,000 debt thanks to fundraising by this group of volunteers.

The impact on the local and wider community has been a huge legacy piece. The 27-acre park is of great importance when it comes to teaching local responsibility, environmental responsibility, health & Well-being, Social inclusion, personal development to name just a few areas of impact. Dún Na Sí is respected and seen as a place for all people to come and enjoy. The volunteers in the park actively seek younger people to become involved in the park as this gives them a sense of ownership and a feeling of communal trust.

The volunteers have been so successful in making Dún Na Sí what it is today that they have inadvertently created jobs for the future of the park and brought a new small-scale social enterprise to the locality.

Irish Red Cross – Tralee Branch

Kerry

Founded in 1939, the branch and unit in Tralee were amongst the first to established themselves after the inception of the irish Red Cross on July 1st 1939. There are 33 active members who carry out ambulance duty at over 140 events per year. There are also 10 novices aged 16-18 who take part in duties, the older members act as mentors to the younger members to allow them find their feet in the Group. 5 members who have done over 300 hours each this year alone on duty in the ambulance and collectively the group have done in excess of 4,300 hours to date.

Each year with the last number of years the have been on active standby for all major weather alerts, the most recently Storm Lorzeno, and before that for red alerts and orange alerts for adverse weather conditions.

Without these volunteers many local events wouldn’t take place unless medical cover was in place. These volunteers train people consistently in first aid making our communities safer, and empowering people with the skills they need at the worse of times, so they can bring the best out of them in that situation. They’ve also trained people in CPR, one of the most fundamental parts of keeping someone alive or at the least giving a family time to gather to say their goodbyes.

These volunteers are responsible for many initiatives in the community. Highlights of the year include the annual Christmas party for people in the community, the annual Christmas hospital visit to those who are sick, bringing ambulances to schools for visits to all age groups, family days, road safety awareness campaigns and mental health programmes.

Victim Support At Court

Dublin

Victim Support at Court (V-SAC) is the only voluntary organisation in Ireland that is dedicated solely to providing court accompaniment to victims of crime and prosecution witnesses when they are attending court. V-SAC trained volunteers accompany victims to court, give practical advice and access to a private area within the courthouse away from the general public. They support victims of all types of crime, their family and friends and witnesses when they are attending court. To become a ‘full-fledged V-SAC Volunteer, it takes 3-4 months from application, training and shadowing an experienced volunteer, to being assigned a case to support on their own. They ensure that anyone looking for support at court has access to V-SAC and liaise with the Gardai, DPP’s Office and other support agencies.

V-SAC supported 1,365 people in 2018, an increase of 27% since 2016 and on the busiest day in Dublin alone, 96 people received support across 17 cases. Irrespective of the outcome of their case, victims were so appreciative for the support provided as well as inundating the group with thank you cards. The victim support area is often referred to as a ‘sanctuary’ or a ‘safe haven’ because of the informal and friendly atmosphere the volunteers provide.

Without the volunteers V-SAC would not have such a high-quality, professional and much needed service for victims of crime. V-SAC involves their volunteers in striving to provide a safe and supportive environment for victims of crime, their families or witnesses while they attend court. The volunteers always put the victims first.