Universities and IOTs Celebrate the Achievements of their Student Volunteers

Dec 10 2019 Posted: 10:11 GMT

NUI Galway student recognised for volunteering efforts

To celebrate International Volunteers Day 2019 NUI Galway along with 9 other universities and institutes of technology have come together through the Campus Engage initiative to launch their first ever student volunteering annual report to highlight the activities and achievements of their students.

Colm O’Hehir, Campus Engage Officer, said: “Student volunteers play such a constructive role in communities, often providing vital services for excluded and vulnerable people. Volunteering is for all and that idea of inclusiveness translates into the work student volunteers do daily across the country. Today is a day to celebrate volunteers and our report highlights some of the students who are helping achieve a more inclusive future for all.”

An Impact Assessment of Irish Universities, conducted by economists Indecon, revealed that in 2017/18 over 17,500 student volunteers donated three million hours of their time to causes both at home and abroad, at an estimated value of €28.4 million to the exchequer.

studentvolunteer.ie  is an online tool that supports students wishing to volunteer in their communities. The portal is the first of its kind globally - a national volunteering database specifically created for higher education students. It was developed in 2016 by ten third level institutions through Campus Engage. 

There are now more than 1000 organisations and 14,000 students registered on the website, with over 4,000 new student registrations in the 2018-19 academic year. Through studentvolunteer.ie, new student volunteers have clocked up a total of 39,746 hours through volunteering opportunities promoted. Overall, students successfully volunteered for 3,391 opportunities.

One such volunteer isNUI Galway mature access student Michelle Mitchell, a dedicated volunteer, who earned the NUI Galway ALIVE Certificate in recognition of her volunteering efforts. Michelle’s volunteering is with organisations that offer mental health, physical and intellectual disability supports. Michelle identified a gap in resources for families who have children with special needs, chronic illness and disabilities, and developed the Special Heroes Ireland initiative that provides educational and recreational activities in Galway. In particular, Michelle and other volunteers organise workshops for the siblings of those with disabilities to help parents who have to spend a lot of time tending to their additional needs child.

Michelle said: “We work with families to help the sibling of the child, as parents who have a child with a special need or chronic illness have to focus their time and attention on that child. We create opportunities so they can learn to cook, make movies, do artwork.”

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