LAST YEAR was a record year for volunteering in Carlow as more than 450 people signed up with the local volunteer centre.
Manager of the centre Fiona Cunnane and placement officer Ashling O'Rourke, representing the only two paid positions at the centre, met with county councillors for a presentation on the running of Carlow Volunteer Centre which operates out of the council buildings.
Ms Cunnane said she estimates that an incredible 22,334 hours were volunteered to the community, the highest number of hours generated in any year since the centre opened in 2006.
She noted that over the years 2,500 people had registered with the volunteer centre along with more than 200 voluntary groups.
'65% of these never volunteered before,' she said. ' They now cover more than 1,000 different roles.'
She noted also that the centre offers a bridge to smaller groups who cannot get Garda vetting as they deal only with large groups of more than 200 people.
' We have helped out over 800 people in the last few years and have 60 voluntary groups accessing that service at the moment.'
Cllr Tommy Kinsella said he is amazed that there are so many local volunteers working behind the scenes and Cllr William Quinn noted that he was happy to see that the centre provides a clearance certificate to those who volunteer while on Jobs Seeker Benefit.
' They are more than volunteers they are patriots of this country,' added Cllr Jim Townsend.
Following questions from Cllr Tom O'Neill about Garda vetting and funding Ms Cunnane said the time frame for vetting is currently twelve weeks despite it being down three weeks last year.
She added also that the centre receives more than €100,000 a year from the Department of the Environment along with a small sum from Carlow County Development Partnership.