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Vincent de Paul seeks volunteers to help bolster services in Galway

St Vincent de Paul in Galway is seeking up to 40 volunteers to bolster its services in the coming months, as the impact of Covid on volunteering continues to pose a challenge.

The organisation will host an open recruitment evening in the Menlo Park Hotel in Galway on Tuesday, January 16, in an effort to attract new members in a variety of roles across the organisation.

Galway Area President for SVP, Seamus McManus, said their appeal for volunteers was particularly focused on its ‘city’ area, which extended as far as Oranmore to the east, and Moycullen to the west.

“Over time, we need to populate our Conferences with about 40 new members, volunteers, over a period of time.

“St Vincent de Paul is a volunteer-led organisation with a very small paid admin staff. It’s volunteers right through our shops, doing the visitations, our food service and looking after the resource centre,” said Mr McManus.

Those volunteers, in addition to their work at the resource centre at Croí na Gaillimhe on Mill Street, also support residents in SVP’s 22 housing units at Madeira Court and Rendu House, he continued.

“There are a wide variety of roles. There are Conferences looking after the tenants, the maintenance of the units and the financial side of things. We also have our resource centre which 400 people use each week for a variety of programmes such as the homework clubs, the men’s centre and intergenerational groups.

“We are an organisation that goes to meet a person when they come to us with a problem. We find that it’s usually only through meeting with a person a few times that you might get to what the real issues are and then try to solve them,” said Mr McManus.

Covid lockdowns had been challenging for all voluntary organisations, he said, and St Vincent de Paul in Galway had felt the effects.

“Covid changed a lot of things. Some of our older volunteers were slow to come back because they were feeling vulnerable. They might have got out of the habit of going to meetings and then just decided to give it up.

“It was a huge thing, in general, that people got out of socialising and started to do things differently. Instead of going to meetings, they were happier to do things remotely,” said Mr McManus.

New volunteers were always needed, he said, and while their support was much needed in the community, it was a hugely rewarding role for those who did get involved.

“Volunteering has been shown, and it’s the experience of many of our volunteers, to be very rewarding, especially when you get a good outcome.

“There is a social side to it for people who might be transitioning into retirement. But I always say some of the people we meet, seeking our support, are some of the most inspirational people you could meet, when you see what they cope with every day,” said Mr McManus.

Paying tribute to Colm Divilly, Vice President of the Galway Area, for setting up the event alongside his committee, Mr McManus said the recruitment evening would be an opportunity for those thinking about getting involved to learn about what it takes to volunteer.

“There will be a short presentation laying out what volunteering involves, the areas of work that people can get involved in, the training and the necessary garda vetting.

“There will be volunteers available from all the different sectors there to talk about the specifics and what to expect too,” he said.

SVP Galway’s open volunteer recruitment evening takes place on Tuesday January 16, at 7.30pm in the Menlo Park Hotel.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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