Volunteers carry out €9m worth of work for free

Volunteers carried out over 420,000 hours of work last year, equating to more than €9m worth of free work.

According to a survey released by Volunteering Ireland to mark National Volunteering Week, nearly 11,000 people registered with the group’s 22 volunteer centres across Ireland and carried out 425,000 hours of voluntary work during the year.

Using the average industrial wage, this work equates to a value of over €9.2m.

Commenting on the figures, Volunteer Ireland chief executive Yvonne McKenna said the data was “just the tip of the iceberg” in terms of the number of people volunteering.

“Since 2006, Volunteer Ireland has seen a dramatic increase in the number of people registering to volunteer at its centres. In the first year following the recession, we saw a 100% increase in registrations.

“This shift in Irish people’s attitudes to volunteering is going widely undocumented and unnoticed,” said Ms McKenna.

Accurate and up-to-date data be fed to the Government and organisations designing more responsive volunteering policies, she said.

According to the survey of more than 5,000 people, 43% said “personal belief for a cause” was the most important part of their decision to volunteer.

This was followed by the “organisation’s values and principles” (24%) and the “experience people will gain” (21%).

About 76% of participants said volunteering was either “essential” or “very important” for the future of their community.

The survey also found that being involved in volunteering brings positive benefits to people themselves with 98% responding “volunteering makes them a happier person”.

For the past five years, volunteers have taken part in charity and community projects on the National Day of Volunteering, with 10,000 taking part last year.

This year the campaign has been expanded to a week, making it easier for volunteers, organisations and companies to get involved.

* www.volunteer.ie


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