International Volunteers Day
International volunteers day, mandated by the United Nations General Assembly is held on the 5th of December every year. It is a special day for volunteers, charities and others to celebrate and honour the amazing work done by so many people all over the world.
2017’s theme “#VolunteersActFirst. Here. Everywhere.” recognizes the contributions of volunteers as first responders in times of crisis. Volunteers are often the first responders in times of crisis, often placing their own lives at risk in dangerous and unstable regions to help those most in need. Volunteers are on the ground in almost every conflict zone in the world and in every area that is suffering from famine, drought, natural disasters or any other humanitarian issue.
Volunteering plays a critical role during emergencies as well as contributing to the development of long-term, sustainable solutions to some of the world’s most intractable social and economic challenges. It is an increasingly significant feature of social and development policies as governments, civil society, local communities and individual people look for ways to improve education, health and reduce poverty.
The act of volunteering is found in all cultures, languages, and religions. Each year, hundreds of millions of people volunteer their time and skills to help make the world a better place. When they volunteer, they help to improve the lives of others. And when they volunteer, they also gain a greater sense of belonging to their communities.
Luckily, for many it has never been easier to volunteer, countless organisation, such as the Red Cross and Amnesty International, have volunteer programs, which take in a broad range of people with diverse skills and backgrounds. Some large companies even allow specific time for their employees to volunteer, ask and see if your company or business does something like this and if it doesn’t, try to start it up! Everyone can help and everyone is needed. The exposure that modern media and the internet has brought to events in far-flung places has contributed greatly to humanities general awareness of the plight of others. However, one does not have to take time out and travel to a remote or dangerous region to help out.
There are many opportunities to volunteer and help people in need in all our cities and countries. One of the most obvious examples is helping the homeless, homelessness is an issue in almost every city. Organisations in Ireland such as Focus Ireland and the Simon community help homeless people every day. Their services range from food distribution and shelters to helping people get back on their feet and into accommodation and many more. Organisations such as these are in constant need of volunteers and without them, many vital and life-saving services would cease to function.
Other than the obvious reason for helping those in need, there are so many reasons to get involved. For instance, volunteering can be done is such a broad range of areas, such as community development, animals, youth outreach, mental health, hospitals. Many people volunteer in an area that has or does directly affect them. It is a great way of giving back and making an actual difference in the world, it has been shown to not only help the people in need but can lead to higher levels of happiness in the volunteer themselves. It also looks great on a person’s C.V and shows employers that you are a caring and compassionate. Volunteering does not even have to cost you anything other than your time!
So, this international Volunteers day take some time to think about an honour the men and women, whose work helps save and improve the lives of countless people around the world. Take some time to see if you too can get involved, it is so easy and a quick google will reveal the countless groups and hard work being done in your own area. Together we can change the world and make it safer, fairer and more enjoyable for all, it all begins with small acts, little steps, one person at a time, so go on! See what you can do today
Volunteer Ireland, 2017. https://www.volunteer.ie/
“State of the Worlds Volunteerism Report 2015” The United Nations Volunteers, 2015. https://www.unv.org/sites/default/files/2015%20State%20of%20the%20World%27s%20Volunteerism%20Report%20-%20Transforming%20Governance.pdf
The Middle East in the Making of Modern Humanitarianism, 2016 by Keith David Watenpaugh and Chirs Gratien. Humanity Journal. University of Pennsylvania Press http://humanityjournal.org/blog/the-middle-east-in-the-making-of-modern-humanitarianism/