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Marian Harkin MEP launches European Year of Volunteering Roadshow

Marian Harkin MEP launched the European Year of Volunteering Roadshow at European Union House today, Monday 22 August, at 11 am. The Roadshow features a number of varied activities that will be of interest to all groups and all ages. Ms Harkin was instrumental in having 2011 designated as European Year of Volunteering.

Speaking at the event Ms Harkin highlighted the importance of volunteering.  While difficult to attribute monetary value to volunteering, Ms Harkin emphasised that in Ireland alone, it is worth an estimated €3 billion euro.  She stressed the need to take seriously the contribution of volunteering to the economy, pointing out that for every Euro invested in voluntary activities, the return to the economy ranges between €3 and €8.

"It is estimated that 100 million people volunteer all across Europe.  Ms Harkin said. In a survey of 37 countries completed by the United Nations, it was calculated that 140 million people in those 37 countries volunteer on a regular basis.  

Making a plea for people to come forward to volunteer to serve their own community, Ms Harkin said, "Events are happening elsewhere over which we have no control. Our Governments have no control. The Euro zone has no control. Those events are having a hugely negative impact on our lives".

"We are like flotsam and jetsam tossed about on the waves of the current economic crisis and we desperately need an anchor. Volunteering can provide that anchor. By taking action at local level we can regain some of that control. We can begin to take back some ownership of our own place contributing positively towards quality of life and by satisfying some of the needs of our community. We can make a difference - look around at the exhibition, see the real difference that volunteering makes to peoples lives, at home and abroad."

During this week, members of the public can drop off unwanted clothes, introduce children to the joy of growing flowers, take part in fairytale dance and sing-along workshops or jewellery-making, learn CPR and therapeutic hand massage and meet some four-legged friends.

All this and more await those who visit the free weeklong EYV2011 Roadshow which will stop in Dublin from Monday 22nd to Friday 26th August.

The fun interactive Roadshow hopes to encourage everyone to get involved in volunteering and to showcase and celebrate Irish voluntary work in all its guises. The weeklong Roadshow which is touring European capitals, already visiting Paris, Vienna, Lisbon, Athens and Stockholm will take place each day from 11.00am to 4.00pm in European Union House, Dawson St/Molesworth Street, Dublin 2.

Each day will have a different theme with different organisations showcasing their skills. Visitors to the Roadshow, will also have the opportunity to find out more about over 70 Irish voluntary and charity organisations through information and skills workshops, video screenings, performances and by visiting the many exhibition stands which will be set-up throughout the course of the week.

See the week's full schedule here