Volunteer Ireland’s Learning and Capacity Building Manager, Stuart Garland, shares the benefits of creating an inclusive volunteering programme.

At Volunteer Ireland, we believe that everyone has something to contribute. Some people volunteer on a regular basis (weekly or monthly), while others volunteer in an episodic manner (such as at events and festivals). Some people volunteer on-site while others volunteer from home or online. Some people volunteer formally with an organisation, while a growing number of people volunteer informally. No matter how you volunteer, or how often, you’re making a valuable contribution to your community.

When we talk about new communities, we’re talking about people who have recently immigrated to Ireland, or whose ethnic or cultural backgrounds differ from the majority of Ireland’s population.

According to the 2022 census, Ireland has a population of 5.1 million people. In Ireland, there are residents from more than 210 nationalities. Over 13.8% of Ireland’s population (703,700 people) are classified as ‘non-Irish nationals’.

Volunteer organisations should strive to involve volunteers from diverse backgrounds and ensure that they are creating a welcoming and inclusive space for everyone.

These communities bring skills, knowledge, and experience that can be valuable to volunteer-involving organisations (VIOs).

Including volunteers from new communities helps in providing a diversity of perspectives. When people from different backgrounds work together, we contribute different ways of thinking, different ways of problem-solving, and different viewpoints. This can lead to innovative solutions to the challenges faced by VIOs.

Involving volunteers from diverse backgrounds also provides an opportunity for cultural exchange. When we volunteer alongside individuals from different backgrounds, we have the opportunity to broaden our understanding of diverse cultures, traditions, and lifestyles. This can help to break down stereotypes and build bridges between communities.

Finally, involving volunteers from new communities can help to build stronger and more resilient communities. When people work together towards a common goal, we create strong bonds and a sense of belonging.

This National Volunteering Week, we’re celebrating the power of volunteering to enrich our communities, bridge social divides, and create opportunities for meaningful connection.

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