- Members of Ulster GAA, the Irish Football Association, Ulster Rugby, Street Soccer NI and Volunteer Now all presented at the Forum meeting.
Volunteers the lifeblood of sports NI Sport and Human Rights Forum hears
Ahead of Volunteer Week, the important role of volunteers in sport has been explored at the latest Northern Ireland Sport and Human Rights Forum.
Ulster GAA, the Irish Football Association and Ulster Rugby presented to members about their joint initiative: ‘Sport – A Home for Lifelong Volunteering’, which engages over 4,000 volunteers across the three sports. The trio highlighted how successfully working together has allowed them to increase the involvement of young volunteers, break down barriers, encourage respect and acknowledge the power and value of volunteering.
The meeting heard about the work of Street Soccer NI in engaging with disadvantaged groups such as those who are homeless, fighting addiction, unemployed, and refugees and asylum seekers through football and other sports. CEO Justin McMinn talked about how the organisation also relies on the stellar work of its volunteers in order to help it provide as much support as possible to those who need it.
Finally, Denise Hayward from Volunteer Now spoke about some of the challenges, including the need to tackle the alarming fall in volunteer numbers since Covid19 with a collaborative and inclusive approach that appeals to a new generation of volunteers.
NI Human Rights Chief Executive, David Russell said:
“We were delighted that our member organisations were able to share their wealth of experiences and best practice around volunteers in sport, creating a culture of respect and tackling homelessness through sport.
It highlights the importance of the NI Sport and Human Rights Forum as a space where sports can learn from each other, explore partnership opportunities and learn more about human rights issues affecting the world of sport.”
NI Sport and Human Rights Forum Chair Conal Heatley said:
“Volunteering is vital to the success and survival of so many sporting organisations. It is great to hear from our member organisations about some of the stellar work they are doing to ensure volunteers have the best possible experience whilst feeling valued and part of a community.
I thank our speakers from Ulster GAA, the IFA, Ulster Rugby, Street Soccer NI and Volunteer Now for taking the time to address the Forum, and wish them well with their ongoing work.”
Denise Hayward CEO of Volunteer Now said:
“It is so important to celebrate the important roles that volunteers are playing in sport. Without volunteers there would be no sports clubs and very limited sporting activity taking place. We need to encourage a new generation of volunteers to step forward and continue to enable a thriving sporting community.”
- The Northern Ireland Sport & Human Rights Forum was established in May 2019. The Forum has been established as a multi-stakeholder platform to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and good practice on sport and human rights issues.
- The Chair of the NI Sport and Human Rights Forum is Conal Heatley, Business and Operations Manager at Commonwealth Games Northern Ireland.
- The NI Sport and Human Rights Forum meets four times a year and builds on the Declaration of Sport and Human Rights, empowering shared learning in the area of sport and human rights. For more information about the Forum please contact Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission is an independent statutory body first proposed in the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement (1998) and established in 1999 by the Northern Ireland Act (1998). It is answerable to Parliament at Westminster.
- Ulster GAA, the Irish Football Association, Ulster Rugby, Street Soccer NI and Volunteer Now all presented at the Forum meeting.