A volunteer from Newtownabbey was among guests-of-honour who attended a celebratory lunch at Stormont recently.
Vivienne Dunlop represented the borough for the event which was hosted by Volunteer Now in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings.
Vivienne has taken part in a befriending scheme in south and east Belfast for almost 20 years. This scheme supports older people who are socially isolated.
The event was organised to reflect on volunteering activities which took place in Northern Ireland last year and to showcase new opportunities for 2013.
Karolyn Gaston who was a London 2012 ‘Games maker’ and World Police and Fire Games selection event volunteer and, Christopher McMonagle, who is part of the ‘culture crew’ for the Derry-Londonderry UK City of Culture, spoke about the fabulous experiences they had through volunteering, including meeting people from across the street and around the world. Both encouraged more people to find out what was available and get involved.
Wendy Osborne OBE, CEO Volunteer Now, said: “I am delighted to have this opportunity to reflect on 2012 as an amazing year for volunteering in Northern Ireland.
“During this time, Volunteer Now supported over 5000 individuals to register to volunteer and placed over 1,000 new volunteering opportunities on the NI volunteering database. In addition, 410 young people received their 200 hour Millennium Volunteer Award of Excellence, bringing the total number of awards given out in NI to 5,500.
“The wide and diverse range of voluntary activity undertaken demonstrates how civic participation creates vibrant and caring communities. The volunteers here today from every council area in Northern Ireland represent all volunteers who are making a positive contribution to community life as well as providing every day inspiration for more people to get involved.
“I look forward to 2013 which promises to be another year which will create an even bigger legacy for volunteering through the World Police and Fire Games and UK City of Culture.”
Key speakers including Michelle McIlveen MLA paid tribute to the contribution of volunteers to community life and offered her support for volunteering and its importance to elected representatives.
Deputy chief constable, Judith Gillespie OBE and chair of the World Police and Fire Games acknowledged the support of Volunteer Now in recruiting over 3,500 volunteers for the Games.
Shona McCarthy, chief executive Derry-Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013 highlighted the involvement of volunteers as pivotal to making the year a great success and leaving a positive legacy for the city.
To find out about the range of volunteering opportunities available across Northern Ireland, go to www.volunteernow.co.uk