Volunteerism in the Irish youth worker sector.


Volunteerism in the youth work sector with specific reference to Sligo Town and Limerick City as case studies.

‘Irish youth work is characterised by being predominately voluntary in nature. We value greately this characteristic and wish to see volunteerism maintained and even further developed … we value it as a process which enriches our society …. It involves people in taking in an appropriate degree of responsibility for various aspects of their community life and in diminishing an unhealthy dependency bureaucratic institutions’ (O’Sullivan, 1980).

The Research Team

Dr. Perry Share Principal Researcher Department of Business & Humanities, IT, Sligo. Mr. Pat Forde Research Student Department of Business & Humanities, IT, Sligo.


The role of volunteers has remained a strong feature of Irish youth work, however in recent years with the advent of the Celtic Tiger economy the focus has lessened somewhat: it is increasingly difficult to recruit volunteers; people are more inclined to seek paid work; and the contribution of Community Employment schemes is becoming more problematic.

Project Details

The research will be conducted within the geographical boundaries of the borough of Sligo and Limerick City. Each of these cities supports a considerable number of volunteers in the youth sector, with at least 30+ in Sligo and approximately six times this number in Limerick.

Specifically the research undertaken will examine :-

  • The level of voluntary activity undertaken by volunteers.
  • The frequency with which volunteers give of their time.
  • The type of youth work engaged in by volunteers.
  • The benefits and disadvantages of being a volunteer.
  • The motivations and aspirations of volunteers to get involved in the youth work.
  • The main needs of the volunteers.
  • Biographical profile of the volunteers.
  • Discussion of findings and recommendations.
  • Conclusions.