Did you Know?-56% of formal volunteers reported to have increased their contact with people from other communities / religions since starting to volunteer.
Creating Safer, Inclusive Communities
The PSNI is a public funded organisation responsible for keeping Northern Ireland Safe. However, community safety is everyone’s responsibility. Healthy, inclusive society is built on citizenship and shared values of respect and understanding.
Volunteer involvement is an important element in the mix that enables communities to be more cohesive, giving a sense of ownership and belonging to individuals and providing opportunities to engage in activities that promote and enhance individual and community well being.
Unfortunately it is still the case that some sections of society don’t get the opportunity to meet or socialise with those from a different background to them in their everyday life. The Voluntary and Community sector plays a lead role in offering opportunities for people to mix. Increasing the diversity of people that volunteer in society and within organisations is also an important way for community relations to grow. 56% of formal volunteers in NI wide survey had increased their contact with people from other communities / religions since starting to volunteer (It’s All About Time, 2007). In a more recent study with 856 16 year olds, 53% of young volunteers who described themselves as coming from a ‘not well off’ background stated that volunteering had increased their contact with people from different backgrounds (Irvine & Schubotz, 2010).
There are still certain groups within society that are less likely to volunteer i.e. people from lower social-economic groups, BME Groups, people with disabilities, older people (70, 80’s) and people from rural areas. There are historical barriers to volunteering for these groups which need to be addressed through concentrated programmes of work. The Volunteering Strategy for Northern Ireland and Action Plan published by the Department for Social Development this year has earmarked increasing diversity and accessibility as a priority area (objective 2).
If you are proud of what can be achieved by volunteers in Northern Ireland and are excited about its potential. Click here to find out how you can be a Volunteer Champion!.