THE tireless dedication of local volunteers from across the Omagh district was recognised during a special celebration at the Grange Park.
On Friday afternoon, as part of Volunteers’ Week, helpers from the ‘B-Friend Hub’ project congregated around the bandstand, where new Fermanagh and Omagh District Council (FODC) chair, Errol Thompson, took official notice of the time they spent through lockdowns relieving the isolation of local people who were cut off from their friends and family.
The B-Friend Hub project stretches across Omagh, Strabane and Fermanagh, and over the course of the year, around 50 volunteers made over 41,000 phone calls to over-60s who were at particular risk of isolation. The event was run by Omagh Volunteer Centre (OVC), an organisation funded by Department of Communities focused on recruiting volunteers for a host of different local charities and community organisations.
Michelle McCrory, OVC’s Job Share Manager, explained why it was so important that a community take the time to stop and thank its volunteers for the work they do.
She said, “Volunteers are often quiet about the work that they do, happy in the satisfaction they receive from helping others, unconcerned with recognition or appreciation.
“And, because of the nature of most volunteers, they can easily be overlooked, but how many of us are willing to give up our time purely to improve the lives of other people? It isn’t too many.
“So, as a community we have a duty to pay our respect to these people, and remind them and ourselves that they are not nameless and faceless people – they have their own lives that they take time out of for the good of the community, and that has to be admired and appreciated. Volunteers’ Week provides a platform from which to do that.”
In addition to the celebration at the bandstand, OVC also handed out ‘appreciation packages’ to representatives from different community groups and charities they work with, so that these groups could distribute them among their volunteers.