Supporting the role of volunteers in our society is an important element of my Department's work in developing vibrant, sustainable and inclusive communities. Consequently, the development of a National Volunteering Strategy is a key priority for my Department.
The first step in the development of the Strategy was a Call for Input paper launched in December 2018. The responses received were presented to the National Advisory Group on Volunteering which is representative of all stakeholders and is chaired by the Minister of State. This group has met on four occasions to date and has provided a comprehensive input into the development of the strategy. In addition, officials from the Department attended a youth consultation event organised by Foróige to seek the input and engagement of young people into the development of the strategy.
Following the input of the Advisory Group, a public consultation process on the draft Strategy ran from 20th December 2019 to 31st January 2020. My Department received over 90 responses and was due to meet the National Advisory Group last March to discuss these responses. However, due to the events around COVID-19, it was not possible to meet with the group at that time.
A revised draft of the strategy, taking into account the responses from this second public consultation, as well as learnings from the COVID-19 experience, have now been issued to the National Advisory Group for consideration. The Advisory Group is due to meet this week with the intention of agreeing a final draft.
Once finalized and agreed with the Minister, it is proposed to present the five year Strategy on Volunteering to Government for approval.