MLA Claire Sugden has urged locals to volunteer as much as possible as figures suggest fewer people do so locally than in any other area of Northern Ireland.
Ms Sugden highlighted the vital work that volunteers do across the whole of society as Volunteers Week 2022 was marked last week (June 1-6). Around 20 per cent of people in the Causeway Coast and Glens area did some kind of volunteering between 2019 and 2020.
“There are huge numbers of volunteers right across Northern Ireland – people who give their free time, expertise and passion to a vast array of projects,” Ms Sugden said.
“The community and voluntary sector is massive and many public services would struggle to cope without its input. This includes volunteers who help drive ambulances and other community transport services that make sure people can get to their appointments – without them, many people, particularly those who live in rural areas, would really struggle.”
Ms Sugden said volunteers needed greater government support to continue to do the work they do.
“While volunteers clearly don’t expect to be paid for their efforts, they still need support from government in the form of advice, resources and funding for projects,” Ms Sugden said. “If this isn’t maintained and stepped up, then many services could suffer.
“Myself and my office have assisted a variety of local projects, but more needs to be done at a government level to ensure their survival.
“During Volunteers Week it’s important to remember the dedication and work of volunteers, and to thank them for it. But it’s also an opportunity to reappraise how we support them and enable their efforts to have the maximum impact for people here.
“People get a lot out of volunteering, so I would also encourage anyone interested to find out more about projects local to them and to get in touch to offer whatever time and skills you have.”