Foróige volunteers from all over Ireland came together in the Mount Wolseley Hotel in Co. Carlow last weekend recently for Foróige’s annual volunteer conference. This was the 51st annual Foróige Volunteers Conference, with over 130 delegates from 18 counties enjoying a wide variety of guest speakers, group discussions and social events aimed at exchanging ideas to continue Foróige volunteers’ impactful work throughout Ireland.
Dr. Bernadine Brady, Senior Lecturer of the University of Galway and Senior Researcher with the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, was the keynote speaker at the conference and spoke about the research she has carried out about the impact of volunteer-led youth work and mentoring “There is evidence that universal youth work impacts positively on young people in a range of areas, including social connection and belonging, personal development and civic behaviour. These are all priority areas for youth policy so it makes absolute sense to invest in and support youth work’.
Odhrán O’Mahony, the newly appointed Foróige Chairperson, addressed the volunteers at the conference “I come to the role of Foróige’s Chairperson as somebody who has seen first hand the impact the organisation has on young people and as somebody who passionately believes in the power of community. Having Foróige in communities is hugely important and we need to make sure Foróige is available to young people, who I think it is fair to say, need us now more than ever.”
Looking towards the future Odhrán commented “Over the next 10 years Foróige wants to see an Ireland where every young person who wants to be involved in youth work can be – we want to see Foróige clubs flourishing in every county and all aspects of Foróige available. We want to be able to attract and retain quality volunteers and staff and to ensure that Foróige is central to communities right across the country.”
Foróige celebrated its 71st year with the first Club meeting in Mooncoin on 14th March 1952. Foróige now has over 4,500 volunteers working in its 450 clubs, 180 projects and programmes, including Leadership for Life; Be Healthy Be Happy, the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), and Big Brother Big Sister. Foróige volunteers are essential to the organisation’s engagement with over 50,000 young people year after year. Foróige, with the help of volunteers, encourages young people to take responsibility for themselves and to be part of shaping the world around them while developing their talents, skills and abilities.
Pictured: Second row L-R Kevin Dignam, Wayne Travers, Anthony Clinton, Geraldine Kavanagh, Jeremy Collins and First row L-R Sabrina Hannon, Debby McAuley, Martina Deans, Paula Martin, Sarah Deans, Emma Jane Moore.