As Minister for Community Development, I was honoured to give the opening address at the Volunteer Ireland awards in Blanchardstown, Dublin, last week.
Volunteers make an invaluable contribution to Irish society, supporting vibrant and inclusive communities across the country.
Their impact cannot be understated and awards like those last week are vital to show our appreciation for all that they do.
Volunteer of the Year was Owodunni (Ola) Mustapha from Ballyhaunis, an asylum seeker living in Direct Provision who is a passionate advocate and supporter of the residents there.
She had led a number of initiatives including coffee mornings, Christmas Voucher Appeals, donation drives, social trips and skills programmes.
Ola also set up a Resident’s Committee encouraging women to take on leadership roles.
I am delighted that my department, the Department of Rural and Community Development, supports Volunteer ireland’s awards.