With no full time employees and just two part time staff the Tralee International Resource Centre (TIRC) simply couldn’t exist without its volunteers, they are a core part of every service they provide. TIRC works, since 2009, to support integration in Tralee by providing a drop in facility and services to asylum seekers, refugees and the broader international community. Volunteers have been a key part of the TIRC from the very beginning and they value their Volunteers' involvement.
Mary Carroll has been at the helm of the centre since it opened in 2009, and she knows they simply wouldn’t continue if it were not for the many volunteers that give of their time and skills on a regular basis. Mary explained that “Volunteers have been involved since day one. I was only on five hours a week when we started, we needed our volunteers just to keep the doors open.”
With such a mix of volunteering needs TIRC has made full use of the services provided by the Kerry Volunteer Centre, which has helped it recruit volunteers to meet its needs. The Volunteer Centre’s recruitment service allows TIRC to seek out specific skills, and to tap into the data base of willing and experienced volunteers across the county. “The volunteering opportunities we have can be so specific, Kerry Volunteer Centre allow us to put up detailed lists of what we need and provide a filtering service. It’s like taking out a job advert,” Mary suggested. “Without them, it would be more random, and
depending on people to walk in from the street,” she added.
Among the many service TIRC now offers with the support of volunteers are:
- Daily free English conversational classes
- Parent and toddler groups
- After school projects,
- Women’s groups
- Mental health programmes
- Practical support in filling out forms
- Access to the internet and computers
- A drop in space
“All our classes are taught by volunteers- everything from our daily English classes to mindfulness to crafts. All our advocacy services are volunteers. Lot of volunteers also help with translating- we have people who have great arabic and great english for example, so they are invaluable. We depend on our volunteers for fundraising, everything from flag days to bag packing. It’s wonderful to have people who are so willing to give their time,” she added.
It is important to International Centre that Volunteers benefit from their service to TIRC and that volunteers get something positive out of their experience. “Most people get involved because they want to help. They see things on the news and they’d like to do something practical to support vulnerable people,” Mary explained.
“For me it’s important to actually manage volunteers- you can’t just leave them alone to get on with things. It’s nice to give feedback and to show how much we appreciate their help. We meet regularly with all our volunteers, and we organise a Thank You lunch on volunteer day,” Mary revealed. “I also think that giving volunteers proper responsibility helps too, where possible, giving them a project that is theirs. It keeps them engaged. An example of this is our website which is managed by a volunteer who keeps everything updated for us,” she added.
“We are always on the look out for volunteers, for example people with legal skills for our advocacy clinics, and we are putting a new advocacy training programme in place at the moment,” Mary revealed. “It is great to have the support of the Kerry Volunteer Centre, they have been with us from the beginning,” she added.
Anyone interested in joining the team at the TIRC can contact the Kerry Volunteer Centre in Tralee at 066 7117966 or log on to www.volunteerkerry.ie.