Pictured are Mily Farrell, Cope Foundation Volunteer Coordinator, Emma and David, people supported by Cope Foundation and Denis Buckley, Cope Foundation Volunteer. Pic: Aoife O’Connell
Coordinator highlights benefits of working with the organisation this National Volunteer Week
Cope Foundation is putting out a call for new volunteers to fill roles requiring a wide range of skills. The call comes during National Volunteering Week which is aimed at amplifying the incredible stories of volunteering in communities across the country.
Cope Foundation was founded by volunteers 66 years ago and currently has about 90 volunteers who are involved in a range of activities which include music, drama, art, independent living skills, community outings and gardening. Pre-covid the number of volunteers was nearly 200 and the organisation is hoping to increase numbers again over the coming months.
The organisation supports 2,800 people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism across a growing network of more than 70 locations in Cork city and county. Cope Foundation looks for volunteers with a variety of skills and from across all age groups. Many retired people enjoy the routine of a regular weekly role while younger people want to gain work experience in the sector. Some family members of people supported by Cope Foundation volunteer as they want to give back.
Milly Farrell is the organisation’s first full-time Volunteer Coordinator, she said, “Having spent almost 24 years in the HR Division of Cope Foundation, it was my great pleasure to take on the role of Volunteer Coordinator nine years ago. Cope Foundation was founded by volunteers and has always had their involvement in some capacity. National Volunteer Week is a great opportunity to highlight our wonderful volunteers across the organisation and a good opportunity for anyone who is thinking about volunteering to make a difference to the lives of people we support.”
The most recent addition to Cope Foundation’s volunteer programme is the Best Buddies Society in MTU. Best Buddies is an international organisation whose mission is dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
Lynsey Kelleher, has been volunteering with Cope Foundation for 5 years, she said, “My role as a volunteer changes all the time. I used to get involved in beauty therapy, music classes, literacy and numeracy. Now I’m working with staff to support students to make personal choices, helping them decide what they want in the future, how to react in social situations, learning how to be calm, deal with stress and identifying what works best for them as individuals. I learn from people we support all the time. Volunteering is enjoyable, it’s challenging because it’s one-on-one and you have to be totally focused. If you’re thinking about volunteering for Cope Foundation, do it. You can give as little or as much as you can. You’ll get a lot out of it. You walk out the door feeling like you’ve achieved something and it costs you nothing. You won’t be lonely if you’re a volunteer, you make friends and it’s very sociable.”
Denis Buckley, is a Cope Foundation Volunteer, he added, “The reason I volunteer is because life has been really good to me and my family. I’m retired and I just wanted to give something back. I work in a classroom environment assisting a teacher. I love the interaction with the students and seeing them develop and grow. I’ve been volunteering for the last 6 months and I really enjoy it. I get a lot out of it, and I think the students do too.”
Some roles may ask for a number of months commitment as continuity can be important depending on the type of role/people that are being supported. The most essential qualities Cope Foundation looks for in all volunteers are a kind and caring personality and training will be provided for someone with the right positive attitude.
To learn more about becoming a Volunteer in Cope Foundation, contact Milly Farrell, Volunteer Coordinator on: 021-4643294 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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