Volunteer Ireland
Connecting Communities Through Volunteering

Social Inclusion and Community Support Awardees 2020

We are so proud to announce this years winners in the Social Inclusion and Community Support Category. This year we are celebrating three outstanding volunteers in each category.

Read each of their inspiring stories below.

Geraldine Molloy, Inner City Helping Homeless, Dublin

Geraldine wears many hats in ICHH including but not limited to case management, mental health supports, outreach, food distribution and Christmas supports – she even did haircuts at the big end of year Christmas events.

Geraldine’s impact in ICHH is immeasurable. She started by answering an SOS for the big end of year ‘Fill a Luas’ event at Connolly Station. ICHH were in need of people to give haircuts to their homeless friends and she came along to support the event and has been with us ever since. She has done outreach, driving the van supporting people that are sleeping rough around Dublin city and surrounding areas. Geraldine takes a hands-on approach to the supports offered to families with children in emergency accommodation with the back to school campaign. She also coordinates Christmas supports to families with Christmas Hampers and toys to families in emergency accommodation.

This year has seen Geraldine step into a case management role where she supports service users with securing accommodation, housing applications and practical supports. She is also a volunteer on the Mental Health support team BABS (Be Aware, Be Safe). She was part of their Connect Cafe that took place on Christmas Day to offer a safe haven for anyone feeling alone on Christmas Day.

Geraldine has had a huge impact on both the volunteers in ICHH and the service users she supports as well as being heavily involved in supports in her local community.

Noelle Fitzsimons, Victim Support at Court, Dublin

Noelle is a court accompaniment volunteer with Victim Support at Court, providing a safe and supportive environment to victims of all types of crime, their family and friends and prosecution witnesses when they attend court.

Noelle has been volunteering since the 1990s, providing support to victims of all types of crime. It started out with her local priest asking her to help a victim of crime by chatting to them and then going with them to court when the time came. She volunteered with Victim Support Ireland for many years before becoming a founder member of Victim Support at Court (V-SAC) in 2005.

She supported victims of crime in the Four Courts, courts in the Dublin Metropolitan area and other courts around the country. It was due to Noelle’s love for the Tallaght Community that she eventually based herself in Tallaght District Court on a daily basis and always on a voluntary basis.

Noelle’s presence in court every day meant that victims arriving to court would be greeted by Noelle’s smile and calming nature. Most victims have never set foot in a court before and would be incredibly nervous of the formal setting and of the prospect of seeing the accused. Noelle would chat to the victim over a cuppa in the small victim support room within the courthouse and explain what to expect when their case was called.

Noelle’s knowledge of the criminal justice system and her gentle way with victims empowered them to enter the courtroom with some confidence, knowing that Noelle was there just for them every step of the way.

Pauline Matthews, Age Action Ireland, Cork

Pauline is a Volunteer Tutor for the over-55s, tutoring and mentoring one on one with Age Action’s Digital Literacy Programme.

Volunteer tutoring with Age Action is just one of Pauline’s many activities but she has really dedicated her time and herself to it. On Thursday mornings for the past 4 ½ years, she has, as a volunteer, tutored an older person with the Getting Started Digital Literacy Programme in the training room in the Cork Office. In her tutoring, she’s a great encourager, prepared to turn her hand to anything. She has a knack of getting her learners to do their “homework” and because of her own outlook on life, I think they feel younger and younger as the classes go on.

She has changed the lives of these people in many more ways than introducing them to the internet. She knows the secret of how to book a ticket for SEAT ONLY on the Irish Rail website. She’s helped them book airline tickets, to set up their online banking, to buy theatre tickets. She has a great sense of humour and can-do attitude that her learners seem to absorb more and more as they spend time with her. She’s patient and gracious with her learners.

Pauline is appreciated and loved by her various groups. They look to her for leadership and motivation and without her encouragement, many of them would have found it much harder than they have done to survive recently within the restrictions that COVID has imposed.