STC’s International Forum is the key once-a-year gathering with many cities participating across the movement globally. Last month STC Dublin & Ireland incl Galway and Cork, were honoured to host IF18.

Leaders from 24 cities were present, with another 5 cities joining on Network conference calls plus 12 cities sending greetings.

This year’s IF18 had close to 90 participants at our Thursday evening Welcome (Fáilte) dinner held in The Crypt of Christchurch Cathedral. STC leader participants were then hosted in the Eurofound Conference Centre Friday & Saturday where topics and themes discussed included best practice in Volunteer Management; community-based measures combating Human Trafficking and a “state of the movement” address by Carlton Deal, founder Serve the City International.

The STC Dublin host team were especially pleased to see more participants this year from the USA which was recently established formally as a 501 (c) (3) registered charity.  New cities represented at the IF18 were Accra, Nairobi, Tartu, Minneapolis and South Jersey.

Some of the local STC Dublin volunteer Project Leader were able to attend along with the international guests, which gave them a wider and deeper perspective of what a volunteer “serving-revolution” can accomplish.

For those that were able to make the IF18 please see the short video here and for those that couldn’t make it, have a look at what it’ll be like for IF19 in Brussels next year.

A big thank you to our local IF18 team, accommodation hosts, Christchurch Cathedral Eurofound & DCM venues, Our Table & Q Café for catering, EI Travel Group for coaches and Dublin City Volunteer Centre.

 

Tour the City- Castletown House in Leixlip

We marked the first tour of June with another ‘mystery’ version and our first away from the city centre. Castletown House in Leixlip just barely sits outside the city limits but the 30 minute bus journey was uncharted territory for the project. Credit to our project leaders in the reception centres whose promotion ensured the bus was at full capacity, including the most kids we’ve seen at a tour. Their infectious energy kept us alert all afternoon.

Our visit to the Georgian house in Kildare began with a guided tour, with the kids (and Shem) kitted out in period costume. Everyone was hugely entertained, as we were told about the politics, personal grudges and surprising charity of the families who’d previously lived in the house. As well as hearing the dramatic tales of the house, the intricate architecture and décor ensured all our senses were stimulated. The drama didn’t conclude with the guide’s departure as the café staff weren’t as well practiced with large groups as the staff of the house. However, after we eventually managed to feed everyone, the more adventurous attendees roamed the gardens and shared their pictures with the rest of us. A project as young as ours welcomes every learning opportunity possible and Saturday’s outing offered many lessons. Rest assured however, our limits lie well beyond the town of Leixlip.

                                  

Tour the City – Botanical Gardens Dublin

A visit to the Botanical Gardens under a rare blue sky probably requires visual representation rather than verbal so thankfully a photographer tagged along for this tour. Along with our usual special guests from the Balseskin Reception Centre, our group featured Serve the City International founder Carlton Deal and Dublin director Alan McElwee. Looking back, we couldn’t have been luckier to pair such wonderful weather, in such inspiring surroundings, with such great company.

The fact that I cannot recall the actual names of any tree/plant/turtle is no measure of our tour guide’s abilities, whose name I also cannot recall (there’s a pattern developing here). He led us through the grounds enthusiastically, and provided some really engaging context to the clashes of colour and the not-so-random patterns and shapes. The trail culminated in a visit to the recreated Viking dwelling, a thatched hut that could easily compete with the standard of some listings on daft.ie.

As always, the volunteers and participants sat down for lunch, this time generously provided for by Alan. A tour’s success can generally be judged on the hum of indistinguishable conversations and this occasion’s was up there. A huge thank you has to be issued to everyone involved but especially our photographer, Alan and Carlton. Saturday’s outing was the perfect preamble to Tour the City’s upcoming 1 year anniversary.

Serve the City Dublin will participate in Global Volunteer Day – join us !

On 5 May, for the first time ever, Serve the City International will organise Global Volunteer Day!

We prepared something special for you!

In the morning we have 2 volunteer projects to chose from (Practical DIY or Tour the City).

In the afternoon we organised Networking Lunch with a small celebration of 1st Anniversary of Tour the City project that will take place in The Tara Building (Tara St).

To get involved, please sing up using your Volunteer Personal Page or go to Volunteer tab in this website.

More info: admin.TTC@servethecity.ie

or by texting to Shem 083059 4812

We’re looking forward to seeing you on 5 May !

Tour the City visits Dublin Castle

There’s a real temptation to just list all the countries represented at the tour but that would be setting a dangerous precedent for future recap pieces- rest assured it was a lot, 5 continents in attendance. This is the first in a series of short blogs that will outline what went on during our outings with Tour the City; a glimpse into our work for curious observers, or those looking to get involved themselves.

The weather encouraged a sizeable group of participants to come from various reception centres, predominantly the Balseskin and Hatch Hall residences. Thanks to the hospitality of Dublin Castle, we were allowed free entry to roam the halls and take in the former hub of English rule in Ireland. The troubled history of the Castle provided an ideal conversation starter, allowing volunteers and participants to recount our respective histories of British colonialism- who knew imperialism had a silver lining?

The hum of conversation is always the highlight of the tours and the ‘four seasons’ gardens were an idyllic setting for lunch. There were tour participants who hadn’t been in Ireland a week and the pristine garden, in such nice weather, could easily mislead anyone about the reality of life here. Then again, this is the essence of the project, to provide a momentary respite from the debilitating routine of life in direct-provision; brief moments of tranquillity should not be taken for granted.

 

March 2018 – a group of STC local volunteers with Direct Provision Accommodations Centres residents visiting Dublin Castle.

Tour the City project visits Collins Barracks in Dublin

After a long Christmas and New Year break, Serve the City’s project Tour the City was back to business at the beginning of January.

On 10 January, the first tour of the year brought a group of residents of Direct Provision Accommodation Centers to the Natural History Museum, commonly known as the Dead Zoo.

Inside, the group was met by the Museum’s tour guide. The group learnt about the prehistoric animals that lived on the territory of Ireland, but also about diverse Irish fauna of today.

There were many questions asked, and for some participants, it was the fist time to see some of the species that live in Ireland. There were some kids in the group and they just had a great fun !

It was the first time since its inception, that the project attracted a good number of local volunteers that want to help in integration of refugees and asylum seekers.

If you’d like to find out more or perhaps even to volunteer, please fill in our  STC Volunteer Application Form and email shem@servethecity.ie and we will get back to you swiftly.

 

Volunteers deliver Christmas CAREboxes, reflect on significance

“Christmas CAREboxes prepared and delivered by our volunteers for some of the clients we served this year” – says it all, really. However, it’s more than volunteers buying some food items, packing them in cardboard boxes and then delivering these CAREboxes around the city, helping marginalised and vulnerable persons. Recently, STC introduced “Reflective” moments, starting with Directors meetings. Talking all-business means Directors (myself included) can sometimes lose the personal significance of what we do as volunteers. So Directors began intentionally reflecting on key moments that touched them personally as volunteers.

Likewise, during distribution of CAREboxes on 9 December, we asked volunteers to also “Reflect” on the significance of what they were involved in: the sense of community that volunteers have together around a cause; the value and impact that simple acts of kindness can have; how meaningful volunteering experiences impact volunteers themselves. What we do on a voluntary basis can point to who we are and helps define our identity. Reflecting and asking ourselves “what motivates me to volunteer?” can enhance the volunteering experience for the volunteer and STC as a volunteer-involving organisation. Personally I’ve been involved in volunteering for most of my life, starting in the Scouts as a boy then with the Simon Community as a teenager, with volunteering enriching my life the most when I reflected on my motivations. It was pretty easy to spot the positive motivations – more challenging identifying the ugly stuff it threw up sometimes. I’d like to think my motivations matured and became more sophisticated over time including up to my present volunteering engagement with STC. Now it’s more about “Love your neighbour as yourself”, which includes inviting others to experience the joy of giving by elevating the perspective volunteers have of themselves and others around them.

How we physically help others as volunteers in STC may be simple, but it can have a profound effect on our lives, if we let it. Others have realised this in life too: “without deep reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people” (Albert Einstein).

Refugees Visit Irish Museum of Modern Art with Tour the City

Tour the City is a project of STC Dublin which seeks to enhance social inclusion and to initiate an integration process for Refugees and Asylum Seekers that reside in Direct Provision Centres (DPCs) in the Greater Dublin Area. Our volunteer leaders organise fortnightly cultural tours that introduce the residents of DPCs to Irish culture, heritage and history, and actively encourages personal interactions between the volunteers and refugees/asylum seekers.

On 11 November, STC Dublin ran its 15th cultural tour this year for the residents of Balseskin in Finglas, Hatch Hall and Georgian Court. We visited the Irish Muesum of Modern Art (IMMA). Currently, the IMMA holds an exhibition titled “Coast – Lines” representing different aspects and conceptualisations of a coast and sea that are so pronounced in the Irish culture. The works of Irish artists like Brian O’Doherty, James Coleman, Noel Sheridan and Anne Madden are very well exhibited and their art work encourages the audience to reflect on sense of place, perception, representation and memory. A strong group of over 30 of the residents from the Centres and STC volunteers were welcomed by a tour guide who explained the exhibition in great detail and then let us dive into the word of art individually.

It’s a small step helping Refugees and Asylum Seekers who reside in Direct Provision Centres – it also helps our volunteers make an immediate impact in a very meaningful way. If you’d like to find out more or perhaps even to volunteer, please email shem@servethecity.ie

Connecting and Learning at STC International Forum 2017

STC Berlin hosted this year’s International Forum (IF) and it was “sehr gut” – that’s “very good”, as Alan discovered while attending with Ronan. “While many of the STC’s cities across the world meet regionally and nationally together, the IF each year is the premier gathering together of people in our movement” added Alan (STC IRL Founder/Director and also Chair of the Board of Directors with STCi).

IF17 Berlin saw around 95 people gather from across the STCi movement, including many EU countries, Nepal, Mexico and USA. Those attending the IF are either actively involved in leading their STC volunteer-movement or are interested/starting an expression of STC in their local city. It’s a simple concept, a “serving revolution”, as expressed by Carlton Deal, Founder of STC Brussels and STCi. It’s mobilsing volunteers to “Cross the Line”, referring to many lines that exist within most global cities: the lines between the haves and the have nots; the rich and poor; black and white; upwardly mobile and the marginalised; homed and homeless…   

“This [IF] is like a family”, said Greet (STC Maastricht). The IF is where our movement connects relationally and talks shop. We listen to one another, learn and encourage each other. Experts are invited to share on specific topics that build capacity across the STCi movement, like excellence in volunteer management.

With STCi becoming a formal legally constituted International Non-Governmental Organisation on 1 September 2016, three new Affiliated Memberships were conferred during this year’s IF (Sat AM). These national entities including Belgium, Ireland and Portugal have been a part of the movement from the early days in Brussels (2005). “This Affiliated Membership celebrates and reflects the reality and commitment in the hearts and minds for many years – now we are formally recognising their membership of STCi”, said Alan. “STCi membership is inclusive and open to eligible entities as either Affiliated or Associate Memberships.”   

T-shirt day (Fri) is where each STC city wears their city’s STC T-shirt. While each maintains the STCi branding guidelines, there was a mass of different coloured and styled T’s, each representing the specific culture and fabric of the different cities. Some of these different T’s have been shared over the years and pictured below is Samuel (STC Lisbon) wearing a T from STC Galway (or Gaillimhe in the Irish language), alongside Alan and Ronan from STC Dublin & IRL.

“STC Dublin has been asked to host the IF18, and accepted this honour. With the support of all our cities in Ireland [Galway & Cork currently active], we will attempt to match the high standards set in Berlin, in Dublin, in Autumn 2018”, said Alan.

#IF18DUB dates are 25-28 October 2018, so please mark these dates in your diary and plan to arrive during the day of the 18 October 2018 in order to make the Welcome dinner – you’ll not want to miss this or the following 2.5 days of sharing, caring, learning and workshops etc.

Previously, the IF gatherings have been held in Brussels, Dublin (2007), Berlin (2013), Lisbon (2015), Amsterdam (2016) and other international cities over the years since launching in 2005 in Brussels.

To see some video and the atmosphere at IF17 Berlin, please see links below. Might look like too much fun and dancing etc. but be assured, it is our global movements premier gathering as a “family” so lots of learning, growing and networking as well:

Thu Welcome dinner

Fri plenary sessions and workshops

Sat plenary sessions and workshops

For even more pics and comments, see “Serve the City Berlin” Facebook Page.

#IVMDay17

5 November 2017 is International Volunteer Manager Day, and a BIG THANK YOU to all our volunteer leaders and coordinators in STC IRL!

Kamal & Alan represented Serve the City at a breakfast gathering on 1 November in Dublin, hosted thanks to @voluntireland. The challenge this year was to “Be the Voice” for volunteer managers. That’s relatively easy @servethecityirl as being 100% volunteer-led means that our volunteer managers are also volunteers.

So this year as volunteer managers, STC would like to say: “Show the Value – Share the Love!” As volunteer managers we show the value volunteers contribute to the Irish economy and society. With around 4,000 volunteer hours serving in the community, that’s about an €80,000 notional value. Sharing the love is what happens when people-to-people movements like STC mobilise volunteers to serve the practical needs of marginalised & vulnerable persons. Often our volunteers say they get involved to “give back” but end up saying “I got more out of that than the person I was there to serve…” When volunteers serve, they show they really care, and transformation can happen on both sides.

Pictured below are Kamal and Alan, with another volunteer manager with DCU but originally from Aleppo, Syria – another city that needs a STC serving-movement as soon as possible.

 

 

Also pictured is the pledge made by STC, celebrating International Volunteer Manager Day and our amazing volunteer managers.

Thank you again.

Welcome

Welcome to this new website for STC Dublin released October 2017. Keeping with our spirit of openness and transparency, we would like to communicate more deeply and to a wider audience than our old website allowed. Our volunteer-led activity in Dublin, Galway, Cork, Limerick, and Waterford outgrew the old one so we’re hoping to bring more relevant and timely news and information about STC here. Welcome!

Monitoring & Evaluation

New STC IRL working team to develop a way forward in Monitoring & Evaluation. M&E is a tool used in community development, international development aid, social sciences, and other contexts to help objectively evaluate the outcomes and impacts of a social activity. For STC IRL, our volunteering activities serving marginalised and vulnerable persons are important, but so is understanding how these activities benefit participants and the community. This “way forward” working team consists of (Dr.) Ingrid, Gerry, Shem and Alan with a strong balance of academic and practice-led experience in developing an M&E framework. This piece of work is ongoing through early 2018 when it will provide recommendations to the Directors of STC IRL.

Serve the City International Forum

New volunteers from STC IRL will attend the Serve the City International Forum in Berlin 26-29 Oct. Ronan, Kamal and Alan will be amongst over a hundred people from other STC’s across Europe and a smaller number of cities from North and South America, Africa and Asia. The focus is very much on building strong relationships internationally, while contributing and learning in an inspirational context. “Having participated in most of these International Forums since 2006 in Brussels, it’s always a rich and rewarding experience with fellow-volunteer leaders talking shop together” said Alan. “Bit of craic too…” he added.

4,000 volunteer hours

STC IRL is on track to achieve over 4,000 volunteer hours serving in the community for 2017. To date, over 3,500 hours have been dedicated to helping vulnerable persons through volunteer-led activity in Dublin, Galway and Cork. Each hour represents a step closer to social inclusion (for both volunteers and persons served), restored dignity and hope within hearts, homes and communities. We are so grateful to each and every volunteer and our service partners for making this all happen together! #bettertogether

International Volunteer Managers Day

International Volunteer Managers Day is 5 Nov 2017, and STC IRL have been invited to a special celebration event on 1 Nov. Many thanks to Volunteer Ireland for the invite and for marking this important occasion. The theme for this International Volunteer Managers Day is “Be the voice!” for volunteer managers. For more info on this, as well as the support and capacity building work of Volunteer Ireland, see www.volunteer.ie.

New Salesforce volunteer management system being built for STC IRL

Thanks to South Dublin Volunteer Centre and the Comm-IT team, STC will have a new purpose-built Salesforce (not-for-profit) system implemented during Nov-Dec 2017. This new system will improve our volunteer management capacity and is designed to enhance the volunteering experience for our volunteers. This system will be administrated by our Admin Coordinators team in Dublin (thanks to volunteers Lav, Ana & Gavin) and local leadership teams in Galway and Cork. Implementation of the Salesforce system is also part of our preparations for the General Data Protection Regulations (new EU-wide data privacy and protection laws), which come into effect 28 May 2018. Thanks also to Salesforce.org for free licences to the NFP version of Salesforce.

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