Dec 17 2015 Posted: 10:19 GMT

Barry Foley, a fourth year Occupational Therapy student at NUI Galway, has won a National Award for Volunteering in the category of Health and Disability at the Volunteer Ireland awards. The awards aim to celebrate and recognise the thousands of remarkable people across the country who selflessly gives their time and talent to benefit others. 

Originally from Barna, Co. Galway, Barry was nominated for the award by Ability West, where he has been a volunteer there since 2011 working. Ability West is a non-profit organisation that provides services and supports to over 520 individuals with intellectual disability throughout the City and County.

Barry said: “I was embarrassed to win as I don’t volunteer for awards, but now that I have, I would like to see if there is a potential to use this opportunity to get other people involved in some way. I’m hoping that by sharing the stories of volunteers to break down any barriers that people may have to volunteering, including shyness, lack of confidence or social anxiety.”    

Linda Keane from Ability West said: “Barry enthusiastically embraces and promotes equality for people with an intellectual disability and encourages service users to reach their potential. Barry, a qualified fitness instructor, brings a number of groups to the gym, develops work out plans for individuals and encourages them to see it through, while promoting healthy living lifestyles.”

“Barry has made a difference to the lives of so many.  In my 10 years as Volunteer Manager, no volunteer has shown our service users more what they are capable of achieving in such a positive way.  He treats them the same as he does other people.  Most importantly, when he brings our service users to the gym, he shows the wider public that people with an intellectual disability can set goals and work hard to achieve them”, continued Linda.

Lorraine Tansey Student Volunteer Coordinator said, “At NUI Galway our student volunteering programme ALIVE seeks to connect students with great skills to community partners that can host them and offer them a positive experience. We are grateful to community groups like Ability West who provide support and acknowledgement to volunteers.”

ENDS         

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