Voluntary Sector 2011

Dail Eireann debate on the voluntary and community sector on 12th October 2011 – speech by Dan Neville TD

I welcome this opportunity to contribute to the debate. I wish to focus on an area of volunteerism which is often not fully understood, and this is volunteers on crisis helplines and organisations involved in bereavement support.

Samaritans is an excellent voluntary organisation. People who staff crisis help lines are dealing with very vulnerable people and they may often be deeply affected by the work. They are well trained to deal with the difficulties. Their reward comes from the work in aiding those in crisis and the use of the skills they have acquired to do so. Society does not adaquately acknowledge the extent of committment that those who work with people in crisis on a voluntary basis. Samaritans has 1,400 volunteers in the Republic of Ireland. They gave 54,600 hours listening time on the telephone help line last year and this equates to more than 1,050 hours per week of listening to people in crisis. This time is expected to increase in 2011 because of the effcts of economic situation. Samaritans offers a 24-hour service and the commitment of the volunteers should be acknowledged. The service provides emotional support and is beneficial to the community in general.

I refer also to organisations offering crisis help lines such as Pieta House and SoSad Ireland, Rural Stress help line, LGBT support help line and 1life. Organisations such as Console, Living Links and Barnardos provide bereavement counselling. Other organisations provide support for dealing with other suffering and include, Suicide or Survive, Shine, Aware and Grow both of which deal with depression, the national self harm network, Bodywhys which provides help for those with eating disorders and the Eating Disorder Resource Centre of Ireland. I would like to have paid tribute to many more organisations but time does not allow.