Michael began his volunteer journey last year when he signed up for the New Connections program with Louth Volunteer Centre. The purpose of the New Connections program which was funded by Mental Health Ireland was to connect people to their communities in a new way through volunteering. Michael found the training program helped him. ‘The program helped boost my confidence and improve my skills.’ Michael has liked linking in with Louth Volunteer Centre and has found the service helpful.
As part of the New Connections program Michael got involved in the Louth Community Volunteer program and began regularly volunteering at different events in his local community such as Lú Festival, Pride Parade, Christmas lights festival and the community sharing project. When speaking to Michael, he told me ‘I want to keep volunteering and I hope to get to do more training and keep meeting new people.’
Michael feels like he has gained a lot from volunteering. ‘Volunteering has given me self confidence and more happiness. I have been able to meet more people and learn about different cultures.' Michael is motivated to continue volunteering for all those reasons. ‘It makes me happy; I go home smiling.’
Michael’s favourite volunteer moment has been volunteering at Lú Festival. When Michael first signed up to volunteer at the festival which took place over 7 nights, he was apprehensive and spoke to the team at Louth Volunteer Centre about this. Due to the nature of the Louth Community Volunteer program the staff at Louth Volunteer Centre were able to reassure Michael that they would be there to check in with him throughout the evening and that another volunteer would be with him. Michael decided to sign up but just wanted to sign up for one night to see how it went. When the volunteer manager checked in on Michael throughout the course of the evening Michael was found to be laughing and joking with everyone and really helped to boost the atmosphere of the whole event. Michael ended up volunteering at Lú Festival 4 out of the 7 nights and played an important role in the success of the event.
Another element of the community volunteer program Michael has enjoyed is the social piece. Louth Volunteer Centre organise social events for the volunteers to attend and spend time getting to know each other.
Michael would tell anyone who doesn’t volunteer to ‘go out and try it, you might be nervous at first but it will give you a confidence boost’.