Volunteers’ Week 2023: Celebrate and Inspire

25 May 2023 Jocelyn Horton    Last updated: 30 May 2023

Volunteers’ Week is an annual celebration recognising and acknowledging the important contribution volunteers make to our local communities, the voluntary sector and society as a whole. 

Taking place 1-7 June, this year’s theme - ‘Celebrate and Inspire’ – aims to highlight diversity in volunteering and demonstrate the many ways everyone can get involved with volunteering.  

Volunteers' Week is also a chance for all organisations involving volunteers in their work to recognise their contribution.

Thanking the Executive Committee

 NICVA is thankful for all our board members who volunteer their time and expertise to effectively govern our organisation.

Governed by this Executive Committee of twelve persons, one third of which is elected each year by member organisations at the Annual General Meeting, each Committee member voluntarily serves for a period of three years.  They represent a broad range of different interests within the sector as a whole and provide for the overall governance and strategic direction of NICVA. Visit Our Governance | NICVA to find out more.

The Board are picture above with Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, The Rt Hon Chris Heaton-Harris MP

NICVA in the Community

NICVA also proudly celebrates the many NICVA staff who volunteer in a variety ways. Each month, employees share their voluntary activities in our Health & Wellbeing Newsletter. A few snippets are below.

Donna Semple has been volunteering with Special Olympics Ireland for close to 18 years since seeing TV adverts for the All-Ireland Games being held in Northern Ireland in 2006.

Many people know about the Paralympics, but while the Paralympics is athletes with physical disabilities, the Special Olympics (SO) is athletes with intellectual disabilities though some would also have physical disabilities. Recognised by the International Olympic Committee, the SO World Games take place the year before the Olympic and Paralympic World Games, alternating between summer and winter Games in two-year cycles, recurring every fourth year.

SO Ireland offers 15 sports, and Donna has volunteered at many competitions including bocce, track and field, aquatics, badminton, basketball, gymnastics, ten pin bowling, floorball, and skiing.  She has been everything from a car park attendant (usually when it’s freezing and/or wet), to field official, co-ordinator and public announcer, and outside of the competitions, mentor for their Athlete Leadership Programme. 

She is now a qualified referee for bocce, the sport she first volunteered for in 2006, and refereed her first advancement competition matches in April 2022.  As a volunteer, she has been given so many opportunities that may take her out of her ‘comfort zone,’ but has allowed her to make friends with many from different walks of life that she wouldn’t have otherwise met.

Jocelyn Horton has always volunteered since graduating Uni in 1992.

The early 90s was tough for graduates and volunteering was key to just securing an interview. And so began Jocelyn’s long-term relationship with volunteering. For her, volunteering has never just been about ‘giving back’, but a way to gain the valuable transferable skills these positions offer to support her career progression and make a difference for others.

She’s volunteered as an education officer for TCV, YOC and the Wildlife Trusts, been a Board member at Dog Kennel Hill Adventure Playground, and a voluntary Volunteer Coordinator for a faith-based community hub.  But as a blow-in to Northern Ireland, she volunteered as the Vice-chair of Softball Ulster to gain the local fundraising experience needed to secure a job. No longer on the Committee, she continues to hone her professional skills voluntarily for a sport she loves.

Whether living in Britain, the US, or Northern Ireland, softball has been a ready community of friends, so volunteering within softball has been a chance to give back and make a difference. With a goal of increasing diversity and equality of opportunity, Jocelyn has organised several events including the first indoor softball tournament for women in Ulster. Held in March this year for International Women’s Day, the event provided an inclusive safe space for women to try the sport, umpiring and scoring. Attended by teams from across the island of Ireland, the event more than met its aim. Following the event, the number of women registering to become qualified umpires rose by 200% and will now be officiating at league games during the 2023 outdoor season. She hopes to host the event in 2024 and beyond. #softballisthewinner

Denise Copeland got involved with Sunshine Foundation Romania 20 years ago when she volunteered with a group from Beragh to paint the charity’s first home in Brasov, Transylvania.  

Since then, she has travelled to Romania every year (excluding covid years) with the Beragh Support Group to paint the properties and do activities with the children and young adults. 

She also volunteers on the committee as a Trustee and organises two main fundraisers annually - the Jumble Sale with the Beragh Support Group and the relay team for the Belfast City Marathon.  She says that so many people volunteer in various different ways for the Jumble Sale, by baking, sorting clothes, selling on the day and bagging up afterwards and they couldn’t do it without all the help. 

She usually gathers a team of her colleagues and ex colleagues from NICVA for the marathon relay team and they all ask their friends and family for sponsorship.  She says that all their efforts for the fundraising is paid off by the generosity and great support from family, friends, colleagues and community. 

Volunteering is Rewarding

There are many reasons to volunteer, but as these stories demonstrate you gain just as much in return. And as Donna says “to anyone thinking about volunteering, I would say go for it – you will gain skills and experience outside of the work environment and meet people you wouldn’t otherwise meet”.

Remember too, that you don’t have to wait until Volunteers’ Week each year to recognise and celebrate your volunteers and their contribution but do join us this year in doing so!

If you would like to know more about volunteering, volunteer opportunities or how to support and recognise volunteers, please visit Volunteer Now

jocelyn.horton@nicva.org's picture
by Jocelyn Horton

Fundraising Advice Officer

[email protected]

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