Tomás O Caoimh has always been used to having a busy schedule but when he found himself with some time on his hands he decided to embrace the opportunity. His first port of call was the Kerry Volunteer Centre. “I had always known the Kerry Volunteer Centre was there, just from passing the door or seeing it in the paper but this was the first time I contacted them,” Tomás who is currently out on disability leave explained. “In the past, I would have been involved in the Simon Community and St Vincent De Paul when I was in college I was always interested in volunteering and I had some time on my hands,” he added.
Tomás has been volunteering as a Befriender/ Companion with the Kerry Parents & Friends group in Tralee since Christmas. It’s a role that proves just how important the small things can be. “We meet up twice a week for an hour, hour and a half, we read the paper together, go on walks, go to the Meadowlands for a coffee. It’s great, I really enjoy it, especially now I have the time,” Tomás suggested.
In addition to his Befriender role Tomás has also got involved with the Tralee Branch of Amnesty International over the last month or two, reigniting a long held passion for human rights. “We meet once a month to discuss the mail out from Amnesty International Headquarters, and to highlight the various campaigns and letters we will concentrate on”, Tomás explained.
Between meetings, when he has a spare moment Tomás check in regularly with the Amnesty International website and sends out mail with regards the ongoing campaigns. It takes just a couple of hours a week but for Tomás and the other Amnesty International volunteers in Tralee the work is vital.
Returning to volunteering in the last few months has given Tomás a new lease of life: “I have the time to give and volunteering gives you a lot of self fulfilment and a good boost to your self esteem.” And for him the best route into volunteering is through the Kerry Volunteer Centre: “I would recommend anyone to go to the Volunteer Centre first, you can find out what is available and also what’s involved in the various roles.”
“The volunteer opportunities are like a job listing, you can find out in advance what is involved in the role and what they might expect from you,” he added. For Tomás the secret to volunteering success is working it around your availability: “I try to go for a walk myself in the mornings but I have two or three hours spare most afternoon s so I tend to fit in the volunteering around that. It works for me. "