City Hall in tribute to 'talented' volunteers
Belfast City Council has held a ceremony to recognise the volunteers who help make the city a better place.
Among them were Bernie Caughey and Julie McCoey, who received an award on behalf of the North Queen Street Community Centre.
The ceremony was held at the City Hall in recognition of the European Year of Volunteering, and was hosted by the Chairman of the Development Committee, Alderman Christopher Stalford.
Lord Mayor Niall Ó Donnghaile, who believes that volunteering has important social and economic impacts, said: “Volunteers are helping to extend the quality and reach of service delivery in local communities and for every £1.00 we spend we receive £3.45 in return.
“Our volunteers also add value to our community services through their individual talents, skills and knowledge.”
Bernie Caughey told the Community Telegraph: “I’ve been volunteering in the area for many years now, along with working for the council.
“I personally volunteer with the pensioners’ group. We meet up once a week and we will have a cup of tea and a chat, and they would also get to go to different tea dances. Once a year they will get to go on a holiday too.
“I also work with the residents’ association and different things like that within the council.”
Presenting certificates to community and play centres around the city, as well as the council’s Youth Forum, the lord mayor said volunteers contributed to a range of services including Summer Schemes, After School and other youth projects. On average people volunteered for 11 years.
“We’d like more people to volunteer becoming more active citizens within their communities so that we can make Belfast a more connected, confident city,” added Councillor Ó Donnghaile.
Alderman Stalford, congratulating all those volunteers at the awards ceremony, said it was an action that benefited the individual as well as their community, adding: “Volunteering is beneficial for an individual’s self confidence, quality of life and future employability. It is a way of knitting communities together, making friends and building strong links with others.”
Catherine Taggart, Community Development Manager, said: “This event is to recognise and celebrate the hundreds of people who selflessly give the gift of their time to work alongside council staff in the design and delivery of a wide range of services.
“We want to thank all volunteers for their passion and their commitment and to applaud their positive contribution to improving the quality of life in neighbourhoods right across the city.”