From 27 exceptional volunteers and 3 groups, 10 winners have been selected for this year’s Volunteer Ireland Awards including the Ballyphehane/Togher Community Arts & Crafts Initiative from Cork. They took home the inaugural Outstanding Group Award. These national awards to celebrate Ireland’s unsung heroes were held at a special ceremony in Sligo, the 2017 European Volunteering Capital, on 1st December.
The awards aim to celebrate the extraordinary dedication that nominees have shown to help others, often taking time away from family and friends to give back. They give us a chance to say thank you and celebrate their achievements.
This group of 20 ladies are voluntary tutors in the community promoting the preservation and passing on of traditional Irish craft skills through the generations. They have been volunteering in the locality for the last 21 years and have widened that reach to include regional, national and international connections.
The initiative now consists of 9 local Art Groups. In addition they have now expanded to include 5 different craft sessions in the community each week, one after schools in the Primary girls school in Ballyphehane and a range of classes given to other Communities across the City that are taught by tutors from this group. In all, almost 300 women of all ages, discover weekly the joy of craft and traditional skills and experience the enjoyment of the company of their peers by participating in community arts and crafts activities.
They felt it was important to challenge Educational Centres to value the multiple life and practical skills people have and not just their academic ability. With the local primary school they arranged classes for fifth and sixth class girls. They have also worked with a group of girls from the Applied Leaving Certificate class in the local Secondary School thus supporting children and schools to recognise that multiple intelligence and creativity are enormously important. They persuaded the local Further Education College to give them space to run classes within the college, and subsequently to put traditional crafts in the Design Curriculum.
They are also heavily involved in the ‘Amulet Project’ with Cork University Maternity Hospital making amulets for premature babies. The initiative is now deeply involved in a development process that will see this project rolled out nationwide.
This year marked an extremely special year for the Volunteer Ireland Awards. Not only were they celebrating their tenth year, they also formed part of the prestigious closing ceremony of Sligo’s designation as European Volunteering Capital.
Commenting on the shortlist for the Volunteer Ireland Awards, Cork Volunteer Centre Manager Joanna Karolini said “Volunteers are the backbone of communities across Ireland. This group of women are a fantastic example of the strong culture of volunteering we have in Cork. Volunteers are often unseen but the contribution they make to Irish society is immense. These awards give us a chance to say thank you and celebrate the difference volunteers make every day.”
About the Volunteer Ireland Awards
The Volunteer Ireland Awards are the national campaign to recognise Ireland’s volunteers supported by the network of Volunteer Centres and Volunteering Information Services. 30 shortlisted nominees and 3 shortlisted groups and their friends and family attended the gala Volunteer Ireland Awards ceremony on December 1st in the Radisson Hotel, Rosses Point, Co. Sligo. 10 category awardees were announced at the event along with the Volunteer Manager of the Year.
One exceptional volunteer, Sister Patricia Wall, was the recipient of the Christine Buckley Volunteer of the Year Award. The award is named in memory of the late Christine Buckley – campaigner, activist and Co-Founder of The Aislinn Education and Support Centre. Christine was Volunteer of the Year in 2009.