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Research Recognises Value of Volunteering in Rural Communities

02 July 2013

New research report highlights the important contribution of volunteering in rural areas.

Volunteer Now has supported the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s (DARD) Rural Development Division to carry out research to better understand volunteering in rural areas.  The research involved speaking to both volunteers and volunteer involving organisations in areas supported by the Rural Community Development Support Programme.

On Friday 28th June an event was held in the scenic surroundings of the Cleenish Centre in Bellanaleck to disseminate key findings from the research and to give participants an opportunity to feed back and discuss ways to further strengthen and recognise volunteering in rural areas.

Highlighting the important role of volunteering in rural areas, John Waddell, Rural Development Division of DARD said:

 "DARD recognises the considerable contribution that volunteers make to the quality of life of rural communities and has been seeking ways to demonstrate the level and impact of volunteering in rural communities as a result of our funding for rural community development support.   To help in this process we were pleased to work in partnership with Volunteer Now and our delivery bodies to undertake the research which forms the basis of this report. The report has highlighted important issues in relation to the operation of our current programme and we are re-assessing the role of volunteering within the context of our support for rural community development."

Sandra Adair, Director of Policy and Capacity Building at Volunteer Now said;

 "We have been delighted to carry out this piece of research on behalf of DARD. It demonstrates the value base and recognition that exists for the role of volunteers in our rural communities. The report itself has clearly outlined the significant work that volunteers carry out and the benefits that they gain from it. It has also set out a number of practical recommendations in terms of how the existing volunteering base can be developed and enriched. This includes building leadership through volunteering, addressing the specific needs of volunteer led groups and implementing measures to increase the diversity of groups. Volunteer Now is pleased to be able to support DARD to progress this work."

A copy of the Executive Summary and Full Report is available from the research section of Volunteer Now website and is titled ‘Formal Voluntary Action in Rural Northern Ireland’, http://www.volunteernow.co.uk/fs/doc/publications/formal-voluntary-action-in-rural-ni.pdf