2.3 National strategy on youth volunteering
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There is currently no national strategy for youth volunteering in Ireland. However, there is a National Volunteering Strategy 2021-2025 that targets the general population including young people. It is Irelands first volunteering strategy. The Department of Rural and Community Development published the Strategy in December 2020 and it will run until 2025.
Other key policy documents in the area of volunteering are:
- 2000: Government White Paper- Supporting Voluntary Activity
- 2002: Tipping the Balance
- 2005: Joint Oireachtas Report on ‘Volunteers and Volunteering in Ireland.’
- 2007: Active Citizenship Report
- 2016: Our Communities: National Framework Policy for Local and Community Development
- 2019: Sustainable, Inclusive and Empowered Communities: A Five-Year Strategy to Support the Community and Voluntary Sector in Ireland (2019-2024).
The purpose of the National Volunteering Strategy is to recognise, support and promote the unique value and contribution of volunteers to Irish society. The Strategy also provides an opportunity for the Government to acknowledge how important volunteering is to Ireland’s well-being and to steer the delivery of an agreed and ambitious vision.
The Strategy provides a vision and road map for both volunteers and organisations who benefit from the work of volunteers. It contains 56 actions to be implemented.
The Strategy recognises that volunteering contributes to making Ireland a more inclusive place and aims for volunteering to be ‘representative of our diverse communities which make up Irish society.’
The main purpose of this Strategy as evidenced in one of its objectives is 'to improve awareness of and increase participation in volunteering activities, particularly among those sections of our society that are currently under-represented. It also seeks to reflect diversity in volunteering and to integrate existing initiatives as well as adopting new and innovative ones.'
It sets out 13 actions under this objective including the long-term action to 'Develop programmes aimed at increasing the number of volunteers from under-represented groups.'
Young people, aged 12-25 years, are specifically addressed within the policy and it identifies a range of opportunities and supports in place across both second and third level education. No specific groups within youth population are targeted.
The Department of Rural and Community Development is the responsible authority for the National Volunteering Strategy. The Strategy states that the Department will with relevant stakeholders; deliver, implement and review the Strategy on an ongoing basis.
An Implementation Group was established and is chaired by the Department of Rural and Community Development, will work to deliver on the strategy with, and for society, and includes representation from relevant Government Departments, State Agencies and sectoral stakeholders. According to the Department, 'The Implementation Group will be a key vehicle to oversee the implementation of the National Volunteering Strategy 2021-2025.'
This group is led by Minister of State with responsibility for Community Development and Charities, Joe O’Brien TD who published the National Volunteering Strategy 2021-2025 in December 2020. The Strategy includes a commitment to work with higher education to deliver high level and ambitious targets.
Within this group an implementation plan will be developed. The Strategy states that 'it is envisaged that a combination of surveys, research and the establishment of baseline data will be used’ for measurement and monitoring. Annual updates on the strategy's implementation will be published.
The National Volunteering Strategy 2021-25 is Ireland’s first volunteering strategy. No revisions or updates have taken place.