Welcome to the Carlow Volunteer Centre

In Carlow Volunteer Centre we are passionate about volunteering and Carlow County is a great place to volunteer. Volunteering enriches communities, gives volunteers an opportunity to develop personally, and puts giving at the heart of how we all live.

Volunteering In Carlow - Fairtrade

The Fairtrade movement in Carlow has been one that first found its roots back in 2004 with Carlow becoming a recognised Fair Trade Town in 2007. Actively creating awareness around the benefits of supporting Fairtrade and how the people of Carlow can play their part, many may be familiar with the Fairtrade logo that appears on various products on shop shelves. But what exactly does it mean? Adam had a chance to meet with Bernadette Power, the current Chairperson of Fairtrade Carlow who shed some light on the organisation and how people can get involved?

 In short, Fairtrade is an alternative approach to conventional trade. It forms a direct partnership between farmers from some of the most disadvantaged areas of the developing world and us, the people who buy their products. Fairtrade farmers are guaranteed a minimum price for their produce as long as they are produced according to Fairtrade standards which ensure the produce creation has no negative social, economic or environmental consequences. This also ensures that farmers can have an assured and stable income and plan for their future.

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Bernadette explains that Fairtrade in Carlow wouldn’t exist without volunteers. “It is completely volunteer-driven, with support from the head office as well as other voluntary groups”. Volunteers in Carlow mostly get involved with writing content to build awareness, while also actively campaigning and raising awareness through school talks and meetings with various local organisations. Fairtrade also features in the CSPE curriculum and on a national level, Fairtrade run an annual colouring competition for school students. This opens up some great discussions on developing countries and how we can do our bit to help communities.

Fairtrade products can be clearly identified by the Fairtrade logo which appears on the packaging. Examples of products range from bananas, coffee and tea to Kit Kats, Dairy Milk bars, Malteasers and Ben & Jerrys ice cream. People may not realise they may already be buying Fairtrade products, but choosing to buy a Fairtrade banana for example over other brands can have such a positive impact on the community in these developing countries where that banana was grown.


As volunteer co-ordinator, Bernadette explains that they are always looking for new volunteers who have new ideas and an enthusiasm for helping others. Bernadette assures that there is a great support network and volunteers can even attend a supporter’s conference which gives them an opportunity to meet other volunteers from around the country and share ideas.

One such volunteer is Joanne O’Brien who has been involved in Fairtrade Carlow since 2010. “I volunteered in Kenya in 2009, in Mombasa and I seen first-hand the difficulties people face in these third world countries”. Joanne says that Fairtrade was such a great way to help people in developing countries without the need to leave the country. “Good volunteer movements strengthen communities and bring people together” Joanne says.

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When asked why she volunteers, Joanne shared that there is a feel good factor for the effort she makes. There are people out there not as fortunate and even if it’s just 1 or 2 hours a week, it can make such a huge difference to another person’s standard of life. Joanne also feels that the ability to interact with the public and seeing people’s enthusiasm and support for Fairtrade really gives her a boost and the motivation to continue to do her bit.

Whether it’s choosing to buy an extra Fairtrade product a week, or being more proactive and helping Fairtrade in Carlow as a volunteer, everyone can play a part in making Carlow and the world a better place to live.

If you would like to learn more about volunteering in Carlow, with Fairtrade , or indeed in any of the other sectors, we would greatly encourage you to pick up the phone and give us a call on 059 9173033 and we can arrange a meeting to help you find the perfect volunteer opportunity for you. You can also find us on Twitter: @VolunteerCarlow and Facebook: Carlow Volunteer Centre where you can keep up to date with all our latest opportunities, events and general happenings in Carlow.

 Adam Lacey

Carlow Volunteer Centre

P: 059 9173033

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t : @VolunteerCarlow

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