Volunteers from Mayo at Foróige's 50th volunteer conference. Front, from left: Ann Cruise (Kilmovee), Mary G. Duffy (Knock), Maria Cawley (Turlough), Ann Lenehan (Brickens), Sharon Reilly (Brickens), Ann-Marie Thompson (Lacken), Caitlin Thompson (Lacken), Kevin Higgins (Kilmovee) and Kevin Regan (Kilmovee). Back: Martin Donohoe (Kilmovee), Aaron Hughes (Knock), Alan Prendergast (Mayo Abbey), Tommy Horan (Kilmovee), Patrick Rushe (Kilmovee), Julie Horan (Kilmovee) and Anna Raba (Big Brother Big Sister Mayo).

Volunteers from Mayo attend national Foróige’s 50th volunteer conference

Volunteers from all over Ireland came together in the Tullamore Court Hotel in Co. Offaly last weekend (September 30 to October 2) for Foróige’s annual volunteer conference.

Minister Roderic O’Gorman was in attendance and spoke to volunteers, praising their continued efforts throughout the pandemic.

He said: “Foróige volunteers have helped create communities that are vital to our society. The value of the contributions that are made by these volunteers cannot be overstated.

“Not only does volunteerism positively impact our communities, but it can provide people with a sense of purpose, improving their own well-being, enhancing their empathy and allowing them to connect with young people in their communities. Foróige has to be commended for the innovative approach in involving young people in the decisions that impact their lives.”

This was the 50th annual Foróige volunteer conference, with 120 delegates from 16 counties – including Mayo – 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. David Coleman, clinical psychologist, broadcaster and author, was the keynote speaker at the conference and gave his insights into how to communicate with and help teenagers tackle the problems they're facing in their lives.

Caitlin Thomson from Lacken Foróige Club, Mayo, addressed the conference on the positive impact being a member of a Foróige club has had on her life.

Foróige has celebrated its 70th anniversary, with the first club meeting in Mooncoin on March 14, 1952. Foróige now has over 5,500 volunteers working in its 550 clubs, 150 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.

Barbara Daly, Foróige chairperson, opened the conference and commented on the momentous anniversary.

She stated: “This year marks the 70th anniversary of Foróige and if we view the challenges ahead through the lens of history, we see that the organisation has continually evolved and changed through those seven decades, adapting to the needs of a given generation of young people, crossing each hurdle in its path and using obstacles as springboards to progress.”