The Localise Virtual Graduation took place this morning online using a YouTube live presentation commenced that commenced at 9am. Keynote speakers at this annual event were Daire Keogh, DCU President, Linda Doyle, Trinity College Provost and Minister Roderic O’Gorman.

Localise Director Derek Cleary opened proceedings by congratulating the youth volunteers on their achievements in what were very challenging pandemic times. “Today we’re going to celebrate the great community service work that you have done, and great work it was indeed, as you reached out to help those in need in hospitals, nursing homes, homeless facilities and a whole wide variety of charities, and organisations all over the country”

DCU President Daire Keogh was also on hand to congratulate the young volunteers saying “I am really thrilled to be with you to say congratulations to the 1500 localise youth volunteers who made such a difference. I think there’s no disposition more important than empathy. That feeling of not just walking in other people’s shoes, but actually anticipating what their needs, trying to make the world and their experience better”

Trinity College Provost Linda Doyle added her voice to the graduation by saying  “I want to say congratulations to you all on your graduation day. I also want to say thank you for devoting your time and talents to serving your local communities. Your generosity goes a very long way towards making our society more caring, particularly for people who are in need.” She went on to say “I hope today’s graduation is not the end of your volunteering experience, but the beginning of much more volunteering for the coming years. So keep volunteering to putting yourself forward. It’s a great way of helping other people. And it’s also a great way to learn lots about yourself”

During the presntation we heard from two Localise Volunteers 16 year old Hanad and 15 year old Monica. This is some of what Hanad has to say “Community is important to me because it makes me feel like I belong somewhere and I have a purpose in doing what I’m doing… I feel like it’s important for young people to volunteer because it helps them grow so much as a person working on themselves. It plays a huge role in influencing their own community, and once they’re doing something with their community those who follow behind do the same thing, which would not only benefit themselves but their community, as well it would also help in future career goals” he rounded off his remarks by saying “I know that I can make a difference through volunteering, because I’m passionate about helping others and I believe that everyone has the responsibility and can make a change in their community”.

Monica spoke about skills development as a consequence of volunteerism, she highlighted leadership, organisational, interpersonal and communication skills in particular as those that she has developed as a result of her volunteering experience. Monica also commented on how youth volunteerism is a way of developing an culture empathy “I think volunteering definitely helps to develop your empathy towards other people because you get to see and learn about some of the real challenges that people face and what you can do to help them and support them. Volunteering as a young person definitely helps to develop a lifelong culture of volunteering. Volunteering, it’s not only a thing you do, it’s a way of living your life, of giving back to others”.

The Keynote speaker for the event was Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, whose Department helps fund Localise. The Minister was quick to praise the Localise programmes and made specific mention of the online blended learning platform developed during the pandemic. He is looking forward to the further development of the digital youth volunteering portfolio which will allow young people “… to demonstrate their value and skills, and support them in their pursuit of further education and further employment”. But today the focus is on the achievements of young volunteers and taking the time to reflect on the significance of what has been achieved, concluding his comments the Minister added “To the young people watching today, it is my hope that the importance of volunteering, civic leadership and contribution to local communities stays with you and that you may be inspired to continue to volunteer into adulthood, congratulations to you all.”

Todays graduation celebrated the 1,500 young people that participated in 52 separate volunteering projects through the Localise programme Volunteering For All – Classroom to Community. This programme is run in partnerships with community groups & schools and is open to young people aged 11 and over. Registration is now open for programmes which are looking to commence in the next academic year. Register through the website or email [email protected] for more information.