Forum Launched to Capacity Audience at Keadeen Hotel

Vere Wynn Jones officially launched the new County Kildare Community and Voluntary Forum on June 12th 2001. The overflow attendance represented groups involved in every kind of Voluntary and Community activity around the country.

He remarked on the important role in the society that is played by people who get involved in their communities on a voluntary basis. That famous line by Mick Lally - Miley Byrne of Glenroe "Sure it seems as though half the country is run by all those voluntary people, half the time" was amply illustrated by the photographic exhibition, at the launch, which showed the scale and variety of community involvement in County Kildare. This exhibition was organised to show we have our place and part in the UN International Year of the Volunteer.

Vere Wynne Jones complimented the Kildare County Orchestra for their delightful playing at the start of the evening, demonstrating the important role the arts have in community and voluntary sector. He suggested that the large turnout showed that the spirit of volunteerism is alive and well in County Kildare, "that both native and new Kildare people are interested in their communities, be they physical communities or communities of mutual interest. This interest will help to make Kildare a better place for all who live in it in the coming years" he concluded.

Dermot O'Donnell outlined how the Forum was set up. He pointed out that the Community and Voluntary Forum is a new idea and that it will take time to work out ways to ensure that the Forum represents the real views of those involved in voluntary work. "It is important" he said "to make sure that those at the coal face of the community involvement are represented to those authorities responsible for drawing up future plans for all the aspects of the county's development. But who will be responsible to make sure it is taken on board?" Dermot was standing in for our Chairman Paul Croghan who had to miss the launch due to illness.

Gail Maher, a Forum Rep on the County Development Board, presented the results of their consultation, carried out at the beginning of the year, on the Key Issues for the future of the County. This highlighted Transport as a major concern right across the county. It was closely followed by the new Settlement Patterns and Environment, then by the Need for Life Long Education and Training, to develop a Sense of Place - other than when Football is going well - and the North/South, Rural/Urban nature of the county.

Sean Cleary, PRO for the Forum, presented the results of the Community Audit carried out earlier in the year. This gives the Forum valuable information on the difficulties and obstacles facing the voluntary sector in County Kildare. The results showed that the voluntary sector views this Forum as a positive move which will let many peoples' voices be heard by those who can react to peoples' needs. The audit also showed that the Community and Voluntary Forum needs to provide the opportunity for those active all across the county to meet and exchange information and ideas. They can gain from just meeting people involved in similar work. The Place and Role of the Volunteer in Communities in this TV, Internet and Celtic Tiger World need to be re-examined. Opportunities for people to Volunteer need to be created.

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