Country Idealist Profiles

Ireland – The relationship between Students and the Non-Profit Sector:

In Ireland there is no formal government policies on volunteering for Students.   Volunteering for students is a personal choice.  Some schools and third level colleges are more pro-active around the promotion of volunteering than others.  

There are a series of initiatives both targeting second level and third level students. Below is just a sample of the activity that is taking place in schools and colleges throughout the country.
Second Level:
Young Social Innovators Programme (YSI) is a social awareness and active citizenship and education programme. The programme invites young people between the ages of 15 and 18 to work together to make radical, innovative suggestions and actions for change that can make a real difference to people’s lives, including their own. The essence of YSI is to support and use the resources, talents, skills and above all the idealism of young people, in particular around social issues of concern to them, in order to create a better society.  This programme provides an opportunity for young people and their communities to get involved in something that can potentially change the way society thinks about certain issues.  It nurtures active citizenship and encourages community/voluntary work.  Everyone has a part to play in meeting the YSI vision to fire young people’s passion to change the world for good.  It’s anything young people feel strongly about.  It’s issues they feel should be tackled such as the environment, human rights, integration, poverty, global issues, community concerns and everyone’s physical and mental well-being.  What makes life better for young people? What makes life better for their community? Participants direct their own project, take their own initiative and produce their own results under the guidance and support of their schools, tutors and parents.  To date, over 20,000 young people have taken up the YSI challenge.
 Third Level:
The National University of Ireland, Galway (NUI Galway) is host to the first ever student volunteer programme, ALIVE, to be embedded within an institution of higher education in Ireland.    This programme which was initiated in 2007 provides a website that allows community organisations to post their volunteer opportunities online.  Students interested in volunteering can then view these opportunities and register.  Over 1,300 student volunteers registered with the ALIVE volunteering programme during the last academic year. The programme is supported by 70 non-governmental organisations who support the programme and enable the student volunteers to act as bridge-builders between the university and civil society.  Essentially, students can volunteer as much or as little time as they can give and attend the optional training if they need more support.  The training is designed to harness students’ energy and enthusiasm and provide avenues and information on local, national and international volunteer opportunities.  Currently there is over 120 opportunities on the ALIVE website, ranging from work as mentors in school-based local homework clubs, managing promotional events, raising awareness and funds for people with disabilities, as well as providing friendship to children of refugees and asylum seekers and the new communities of Ireland.  The programme draws on a strong tradition of student engagement, both on and off campus, and assists students who wish to actively volunteer while developing tangible and transferable skills alongside practical volunteering experiences.

In addition to the above NUI Galway also host a Volunteering Fair annually – the aim of the Fair is to promote and recruit individuals to local, national and international volunteering organisations.
Many other third level colleges, while they may not host specific volunteer programmes, provide information to students on the different types of volunteering opportunities that are available locally, nationally and internationally.  Below is a sample of some of the information available to students in different colleges in relation to opportunities available.


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