Explore this section to see how you can get involved in your community and start making a difference today.
Active citizens are people who get involved in their communities and democracy at all levels, in towns, cities and nationwide. Anyone can be an active citizen, regardless of his or her age, background, level of education or experience.
Active citizenship can take many forms: it can be as simple as volunteering with a local charity or club, joining a resident’s association, or taking part in elections and decision-making processes. Being an active citizen simply means being active in your community and taking an interest in the decisions that shape our lives.
Community and voluntary organisations play an important role in enabling people to become active citizens. There are over 11,500 of these organisations (8,500 of which are registered charities) active across Ireland. Together these organisations involve over 560,000 volunteers, employ over 100,000 staff and involve over 50,000 people as volunteer directors/trustees/board-members.
Community and voluntary organisations provide essential services in health and social care; in education; in disability services; in environmental sustainability; in conservation and in a myriad of other fields. Despite this diversity, all of these groups have two things in common: they are all working towards improving people’s lives, and they rely on the public’s support.
- Volunteers report greater life satisfaction and better physical health than do non-volunteers, and their life satisfaction and physical health improves at a greater rate as a result of volunteering (Van Willigen, 2000).
- Weekly volunteers feel 16% more happy—a hike in happiness comparable to having an income of $75,000–$100,000 versus $20,000, say researchers (London School of Economics).
- A study of older adults found that participation in community service was more strongly correlated with life satisfaction for retirees than for those individuals who continued to work for pay (Harlow and Cantor, 1996).
- Older volunteers experience greater increases in life satisfaction and greater positive changes in their perceived health as a result of their volunteer activities than do younger volunteers (Van Willigen, 2000).
It’s clear that we all benefit from community and voluntary activity. Take the first step today, and help improve your community and your own wellbeing.
Volunteering is a very rewarding way of getting involved in your community. It can also be a fun opportunity to meet new people, gain new skills and get to know your local area.
Volunteering can take many forms, examples include:
- Fundraising for a good cause
- Volunteering in a charity shop
- Coaching a sports team
- Joining a charity’s board of directors
- Helping to pick up litter or cleaning communal areas
- Offering your professional services to a charity pro bono
Before you decide to volunteer ask yourself the following:
- Which causes do I feel passionate about?
- How much time can I commit?
- What skills can I offer?
You can volunteer for a specific event, for a few hours, a month or even full-time. There is a volunteering opportunity for everyone, regardless of his or her age, background, or education!
Take the first step today…
- Volunteer Ireland is the national volunteer development agency and a support body for all local Volunteer Centres and Volunteer Information Services in Ireland. Visit www.volunteer.ie to find your local volunteer centre and apply to volunteer with one of the 6,000 live opportunities posted online.
- Boardmatch Ireland provides a free online service that matches professionals from the corporate/public sectors with charities that are recruiting board members.
Visit www.wheel.ie to find out more Ireland’s Community and Voluntary Sector.