10 December 2004
Mid-Ulster Democratic Union Party (DUP) Assembly member William McCrea has spoken in recognition of International Volunteer Day and of the positive contribution that volunteers make to society.
Mr. McCrea said there is a growing consensus that a society with volunteers shows a caring society.
"In Northern Ireland there is a tremendous amount of goodwill clearly visible in volunteering which takes place in many different guises.
"A research study conducted by the Volunteer Development Agency in 2001 into volunteering in Northern Ireland found that 448,000 volunteers, involved in a wide range of organisations and groups, donated up to 50 million hours on voluntary activities per annum, thereby, contributing some £452m to the local economy.
"The sector itself has recognised a significant growth in the past ten years, and now covers a vast range of activities including working with animals and children, assisting the emergency services, working on conservation and environmental projects not only locally but in developing countries around the globe and also fundraising for a particular campaign or charity.
"In Northern Ireland it is important that we now raise our game and that means placing volunteering at the heart of the social policy agenda at all levels of government.
"Volunteering must be given a stronger voice and new levels of funding must be unlocked," he added.
From: Belfast Telegraph