Belfast Telegraph

Spanish volunteers’ visit to Belfast deemed a success

By Brénna Walsh

A Spanish delegation visited Belfast last week as part of a unique European-funded exchange programme between Belfast and Madrid.

The programme offered the opportunity for six older people each from Belfast and Madrid to spend between three and eight weeks doing voluntary work in each city.

Engage with Age, East Belfast Mission and the Voluntary Services Bureau all met with the visitors from Madrid’s Foundation for Volunteers who completed their two day tour of Belfast by meeting older people and volunteers at the Grove Wellbeing Centre north Belfast.

Sonsoles de Juan from the Foundation for Volunteers said: “We are looking forward to working with Belfast and have been impressed by the organisation and structures here.”

A member of Belfast City Council’s Older Peoples’ Reference Group, Councillor Bernie Kelly, said: “One Spanish gentleman, who lives in Belfast, has already been in touch to offer help for our visitors so I think there will be a lot of interest in making it work.

“We ourselves are learning from the exchange by looking at how the municipality in Madrid organise volunteer opportunities for its civic events for example.

“I think it is a great and exciting project as so often exchanges are seen as something that young people benefit from but this project will show that everyone whatever their age can learn new things and continue to contribute to society.”

MEP and North Belfast councillor Diane Dodds said she was delighted that Belfast and Madrid are co-operating on the project.

“One of the aims of the council’s Older Persons’ Working Group is to improve the lives of older people in Belfast by providing services tailored to their needs,” said Mrs Dodds.

“It is proof that one is never too old to try new experiences and get involved in working for your community.”

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