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Volunteering in the Community

Published on:  18 Dec 2013

Building a Shared Future for Communities in the Donegal Border Area


On Thursday (12th December), local residents and community representatives came together at the Castlefinn Partnership Initiative in Co. Donegal to celebrate the achievements of participants in the ‘Volunteering in the Community’ programme funded by the International Fund for Ireland (IFI). The initiative is administered by Donegal Local Development Company (DLDC).


At the event, certificates were awarded to over 50 young people aged 18-25 who took part in the initiative, which aims to help the most socially and economically disadvantaged regions in Northern Ireland and the southern border counties of Ireland, working to create the conditions for reconciliation and a long-term shared future.


Over the last two years, Volunteering in the Community has run seven courses in Raphoe, St. Johnston, Lifford, Castlefinn, Stranorlar, Ballyshannon and Pettigo.  During this time, almost 60 young people have completed the 12 week programmes with approximately another 170 completing certain aspects of the training.


Participants experienced firsthand the opportunities and benefits of becoming involved in their local community through voluntarism. Participants also learned new skills through a variety of positive life choice activities and training, including opportunities to explore the theme of reconciliation on a cross-community basis.


Training opportunities provided spanned a variety of areas such as information technology, first aid, substance awareness, up-skilling and CV preparation, media skills and cookery.  Participants also took part in outdoor pursuits, worked on community projects and participated in An Gaisce - The President’s Award. As part of the initiative, peace and reconciliation training was provided in collaboration with Tyrone Donegal Partnership.


To commemorate the completion of the project, a booklet highlighting the achievements of the participants from all the areas that were involved in the programme was also launched at Thursday’s event. The booklet included a breakdown of the training and testimonies from some of the participants and from representatives of the host organisations, highlighting the community impact of the project.


Speaking at the presentation ceremony, Winston Patterson, Board Member of the International Fund for Ireland, said the Fund was proud to be associated with the valuable work carried out by the Volunteering in the Community initiative, helping to build a shared future for communities in the region who suffered greatly as a consequence of the Troubles.


“The Fund is committed to the long-term task of breaking down traditional barriers and helping to build positive relations and contact between the two main communities on the island of Ireland,” said Mr Patterson. “We are proud to be associated with Donegal Local Development and the tremendous work they have carried out over the past two years.”


“This project has been tremendously successful in fostering greater interaction among participants, teaching the benefits of working together to achieve results and helping to promote greater cross-community links and indeed friendships. We believe this project will continue to have a lasting, long-term impact on reconciliation in the Donegal border area.”


Dr Caoimhin MacAoidh, Chief Executive Officer, DLDC stated: “DLDC wishes to acknowledge the significant impact which the Volunteering in the Community Programme, as funded by the International Fund for Ireland, has made in the lives of the individual participants and their communities.  This has been an excellent and very relevant response to the needs of young people living in the immediate border communities of County Donegal. The participants have excelled in what they have achieved for themselves, their families and their communities.”


“We have only to read of these impacts in their own testimonies recorded in the commemorative publication as well as marvelling in the murals of Ballyshannon and Convoy and also the seating and stone signage in the Ard Baithin Estate in St. Johnston as but a few examples of their work. DLDC is grateful to the International Fund for Ireland for its assistance in underwriting the programme and especially to the participants and their families for their commitment to up-skilling and learning. Those skills were then voluntarily invested in real projects in their local communities which will stand as a long term testimony to their work and achievements.”


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