Volunteering In Carlow - Foróige
Foróige is the leading youth organisation in Ireland and has been working with young people since 1952. We work with over 50,000 young people aged 10-18 each year through volunteer-led Clubs and staff-led Youth Projects. Foróige currently operates in 26 counties in Ireland, with 614 Foróige Clubs, 160 Youth Projects, the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programme, the Foróige Youth Entrepreneurship programme, our Youth Citizenship and Youth Leadership programmes.
In Carlow, Foróige works with young people through our volunteer led groups Foróige Clubs/Youth Cafés, Foróige Juniors and Foróige Interest Clubs. These clubs encourage young people to take responsibility for themselves and to be part of shaping the world around them while developing their talents, skills and abilities.
FOROIGE VOLUNTEEER PROFILE: Amanda McLysaght - Rathvilly Foróige Club, Co. Carlow
Why did you decide to volunteer for Foroige?
My eldest daughter joined Foróige the year before I started volunteering. She kept telling me about all the wonderful and amazing things they were doing in the group. And also how much she had come out of herself – listening to her talk about her Foróige experience made me realise that I could also maybe help out and maybe grow my own confidence a bit. I had previously done volunteering with other organisations,have a background with children as a childcare worker and summer camps and I wanted to get more involved in my community as I had come from Dublin into a small village and knew no one so this was my best opportunity to get involved.
How long have you been volunteering?
My volunteering journey started in Sept 2013 and I will be starting my fourth year as a volunteer for the Senior Foróige Club in Rathvilly. I will also be starting up a Junior Foróige club in the community this September which will cater for 5 th and 6 th Class children in primary school.
What do you do as a volunteer?
As a volunteer, I am there to help the groups of teenagers come together, make friends, help them get more involved with the community but also help to build their own confidence and self esteem by getting them involved in workshops or activities that they are interested in, letting them have a voice and an opinion in anything that will happen within the group and working with them to achieve their goals whether that be organising a pizza night, a trip away or doing something for the community.
What are your main responsibilities?
My main responsibilities is to be there for the young people, being able to help them with their tasks and workshops but also being a go to person if they need help with anything. Being able to see the young people grow, be so much more enthusiastic by being part of the group, helping them face their fears, meet new people and do activities that they have a real interest in is a real achievement as a volunteer.
What is your favourite part of volunteering?
I think volunteering with the young people of the community helps me in getting to know them more, to give the youngsters somewhere to go and get off the streets but also getting involved in doing more for their community. I became a volunteer because I wanted to see how I could help young people to become better people when they grew up, help them boost their confidence and help them grow. It's such an honour to see how much they have to offer, how much passion some of the youngsters have towards their causes and how much being part of a group can really bring them through life. I have also made some life long friends along the way, met some amazing inspiring people and have also grown as a person and helped to boost my own low self esteem and confidence.
Why do you think volunteering is important?
I think more people should get out there and volunteer. Even by giving one hour a week of your time to help any organisation or any community group can help you become a better person in your self and also help others. By volunteering with Foróige, you are helping to ge youngsters off the streets, get more involved with their community, help them become the person they thought they could never be and see how they grow and give them the ability and confidence in themselves. I love volunteering in Foroige as it has changed me as a person. It has helped me boost my confidence from nothing to something, develop my leadership skills and become a better person all thanks to the youngsters, the training and support offered and meeting some amazing people.
What has been your volunteer highlight so far?
This year has been an amazing and rewarding year for me so far with Foróige. I have had the privilege to be part of the Reference Panel Weekend (a national youth panel of Foróige members) and really see how passionate other youngsters from other counties in Ireland are. Being able to learn from them and see how much they have progressed or changed their lives through getting involved with Foróige is incredible.
What are your hopes for the future?
This year, I hope to make a really good go at starting up the Foróige Junior Club in my community. I feel the need is there for this as there is not much for the younger age groups, like my own 10 year old to do in the village. I feel a junior club will really help the 10-12 year olds to get more involved in the community, help them meet new people and achieve what they would like to do in a club for them. It will also show them what the senior club is like and it will help them boost their own confidence that will help them when they start their journey to secondary school.
What would you say to someone who is considering volunteering for Foróige?
Foróige is a life changing experience for youngsters and volunteers. It can really be part of your life, help you feel part of a family with all the amazing people you meet and help you make some lifelong friends along the way. I wouldn't change it for anything. Foróige has become part of me and will always be part of me.
How can you become a Foróige volunteer?
Foróige welcomes applications from adults 18 years and older to become a volunteer. The recruitment process involves meeting with the designated staff person (for Carlow this is Rosie O’Brien), filling in a volunteer application form, providing two references, garda vetting and completing training.
How can you establish a Foróige Group in your community?
The three essential elements to establishing a Foróige Group in your community are
1. Adult volunteers
2. Premises – a place to meet
3. Young people