Volunteering has given Louth man Paul Cleere ‘a reason to get out of bed’

20th anniversary celebrations and exhibition during National Volunteer Week

Louth volunteer Paul Cleere

Alison ComynDrogheda Independent

“My family have said the difference in me since I have started volunteering to now, they said they have got Paul back.”

With National Volunteering Week coming up, as well as the 20th anniversary of Louth Volunteer Centre, we have been featuring the personal stories of some local volunteers like Paul Cleere.

Paul began his volunteering journey in 2018. He registered with Louth Volunteer Centre and a short time later the role for Fleadh Volunteer came up and he knew it was the role for him. Paul has an underlying condition that left him very unwell and unable to work for several years. He says that he found volunteering a good way to motivate him to get back out there. “It’s a reason to get out of bed, for a long time I didn’t have a reason to leave the house.”

It was then through Louth Volunteer Centre Paul found his role as a Meet and Greet Volunteer with the hospital. Paul said “that changed everything for me. I got my confidence back.” Paul also said that it was through his volunteer journey that he ended up retraining as a health Care Worker after spending most of his life working as a chef.

Paul felt that Louth Volunteer Centre really supported him on his volunteer journey. “I felt at ease calling into the centre, I was always made feel very welcome.” Paul developed a good relationship with the team in Louth Volunteer Centre and feels that they “seen the difference in me when I was volunteering.” Paul felt he started as a very under confident person and progressed into someone who got their confidence back and found their way back into employment through volunteering.

When I asked Paul about his favourite volunteer moment, he had a unique answer. “When I was Volunteering in the hospital as a meet and greet volunteer a young couple came into the hospital and it was very obvious, she was about to give birth any minute, she ended up having the baby two feet in front of me.”

Another moment Paul found very special was again during his meet and greet role in the hospital. A woman came in with a young child in her arms. The child noticed Paul’s lack of hair and decided she wanted to ‘polish’ Paul’s head. Paul ended up staying with the young girl and accompanying her all the way down the corridor to X-Ray. Paul was able to connect with people during this role and able to offer them comfort.

Paul ended up progressing into employment due to the skills and experience he gained through his volunteering. “The manager of the volunteer team approached me and told me I should retrain as a health care assistant, he said he could see it in me.” Paul laughed at this at first but ended up looking into it and decided to go for it and loved every bit of it. Paul said, “I actually ended up doing my work placement in the A&E of the hospital I volunteered at.”

Louth Volunteer Centre is celebrating 20 glorious years next week, and as part of the celebrations will hold a special private event in the Highlanes Gallery on Thursday May 18th attended by Minister Heather Humphries. There will also be an exhibition of voluntary life in the county which the public can enjoy for the rest of the week.

If you are interested in volunteering register at www.volunteerlouth.ie and find your perfect role.