A Cork group has taken part in the launch of We Act, a new national campaign aimed at building on the upswell of community activity during Covid-19 to help drive the post-pandemic recovery.
The Sanctuary Runners is an organisation of over 1,200 runners in 12 locations across Ireland which bring together residents, refugees and asylum seekers to run, jog or walk on the same Sanctuary Runners team.
In addition to Sanctuary Runners, charities and community groups across Cork are being encouraged to join the We Act campaign which aims to promote the value and impact of Ireland’s charity and community sector which consists of 34,000 organisations and employs almost 165,000 people and a further one million volunteers.
Commenting on the launch of We Act, the campaign’s manager, Sarah Monaghan, said: “The Covid-19 crisis brought a renewed public focus on the work of our sector. From support lines for older people to laptops for children in emergency accommodation, when we saw a need in our communities – in Cork and right across the country – we responded to it.
“The pandemic demonstrated that, in times of real need, charities and community groups are at the forefront of our national response.
“We saw a shift in values towards equality, justice and supports for the most vulnerable in our communities and across the globe.
Now, there needs to be a concentrated effort to ensure the innovation, goodwill and community cohesion continues as we recover from the pandemic.
A survey of 1,000 people in Ireland conducted on behalf of the We Act campaign found that 70% of people believe the lives of people in their communities would be impacted if charities disappeared overnight but just 8% believe they interacted with a charity or community group in the past year.
63% of people have given to a charity or community group in the last three months and 62% think charities are more likely to be responsive in their services than the public sector, but only 54% think staff in the charity sector should be paid similarly to those in the public sector.
“We know from the incredible support during the pandemic that people in Ireland have a huge affinity for good causes and we can see from the research that they understand the role some charities have in providing vital services.
However, a majority of the public feel charity is for someone else. This campaign wants to celebrate the wide breadth of groups who have an impact on our lives every single day – even if we don’t realise it.
“Think of your local tidy towns association, fun run, Men’s Shed, community gardens, youth club, cancer or dementia supports, or animal rescue. All of these have a positive impact on both our lives and our wider community.
“We hope a better understanding of the benefits of charitable work and volunteering will drive community and voluntary action in communities across Cork and nationwide, which, in turn, will help drive the post-pandemic recovery,” Ms Monaghan said.
The We Act campaign will run over the next three years and is funded through a grant from RTÉ Does Comic Relief, distributed by The Community Foundation for Ireland.