Stories from the Frontline: Volunteers play crucial role in community

Stories from the Frontline: Volunteers play crucial role in community

By Mary Dennehy

AS PART of a number of initiatives to recognise all those who have volunteered across local communities, the South Dublin County Volunteer Centre is running a digital campaign called Stories from the Frontline.

In partnership with South Dublin County Council, the initiative is being launched this week to celebrate National Volunteer Week, which runs from September 21 to 27.

Stories from the Frontline Fiona McSweeney 1

Fiona Sweeney is a volunteer with South Dublin Volunteer Centre

Speaking with The Echo, Deirdre McNicholas, Organisational Support Worker, said: “Volunteers have played such a crucial and important role in the response to Covid-19 in our community.

“South Dublin County Volunteer Centre is delighted to be partnering with South Dublin County Council on a Digital Campaign to acknowledge and recognise all of those who volunteered or are still volunteering on the Frontline during Covid-19.

“We feel it is important to showcase the stories of some of those frontline heroes, ordinary people who went the extra mile to help others.”

The stories, which are being published on the South Dublin County Volunteers Centre’s website,, will also feature in a weekly series in The Echo.

The series starts this week with Fiona Sweeney, who has been volunteering at the Volunteer Centre’s Covid-19 Test Centre Programme since March.

From Rathfarnham, Fiona was originally based at the test centre in Tallaght stadium and is now volunteering in Citywest.

This is her story…

My first day of volunteering with the South Dublin Volunteer Centre was March 20, 2020.

I remember that first day well, as I was very nervous about volunteering at the Tallaght Covid-19 Test Centre.

While I had talked it through with Tricia [Nolan], the Volunteer Centre Manager and my family, I was still uncertain that it would be for me. My main concern was any potential risk to my family.

Within the first hour all my fears were allayed. The steps taken to protect volunteers and staff were exemplary and the team was so welcoming… and I’ve been there since!

The role is to meet and greet all the people who come for testing, check their details and show them where to go for testing – that bit is usually straightforward.

What we add to this is making sure that people are put at their ease and are protected, explaining about correct mask wearing and other precautions they should take for their and our safety.

Many people coming in are very nervous, some are upset, and we do our best to reassure and even cheer them up.

That’s the most important part of the role, being as friendly and as calm as possible.

Over the six months the numbers being tested have changed and now we have moved to a new testing facility where we are seeing over 800 people a day.

Even though it’s extremely busy, we still make time to ensure that they see a smiling face (behind a mask!) and hear a calm and reassuring voice.

I volunteered like many others back in March because I felt the need to do something to help.

In those initial days of the lockdown there were calls for volunteers in many areas and I was on the lookout for anything I could join to help.

I do admit though it wasn’t totally altruistic – I did it to keep myself occupied too.

On March 12, all my work disappeared.

I teach singing, choirs, community music, the work I do is all about group activity.

Everything in that area stopped on that day and still hasn’t resumed so I am delighted to still be able to get out and meet people and help where I can.

By subscribing to The Echo you are supporting your local newspaper Click Here: Echo Online.

Share This