Natural Supports/Volunteering Opportunities

Volunteer Opportunities in Western Care Association

Western Care Association exists to empower people with a wide range of learning and associated disabilities in County Mayo, to live full and satisfied lives as equal citizens. We achieve this through the provision of a comprehensive range of innovative services and supports.

Western Care Association wishes to further facilitate community integration and inclusion of people with learning disabilities, by promoting and developing voluntary involvement.

This creates opportunities to build relationships, develop social roles and to participate fully as citizens in their local community.
What types of Opportunities are there?

There are many different opportunities within the organisation. It very much depends on what you like to do and what time you have available.Volunteers are involved in things like:
  • Becoming a friend to someone and doing things together
  • Organising Events or Trips,
    e.g. Social Outings, Swimming Groups, Keep Fit, Discos, Holidays, Day Trips, etc.
  • Inclusion in existing clubs and societies
    Volunteers encourage people to come along to clubs which the volunteer is already a member.
    The volunteer also promotes awareness among other club members about the importance of inclusion.
  • Teaching a skill. e.g.  Music, Literacy, I.T., Art, Cookery, etc.

How do I get involved?

You can contact the Community Inclusion Coordinator or your local Service for information and application pack. They will explain further what’s involved and offer guidance around matching your skills and interests to the opportunities which may exist.
For further information contact:   
Noreen McGarry
Community Inclusion Co-ordinator
Western Care Assocaition
John Moore Road
County Mayo
Telephone: 094 9029193
The following are a selection of some volunteer stories.
Angela's Story

"I began volunteering at Ridgepool in 2007 after seeing an advert for volunteers in the church bulletin. I felt volunteering my skills as a beautician and reflexologist would enhance the lives of people in Westerncare, and would be enjoyable.

I come to Ridgepool centre each Monday morning from 10am to 12 noon, and feel so valued because the service users are so delighted to see me arrive.

At this stage each person can tell me exactly what they would like for example MO likes shoulder massage, ÚO’M loves her make up and nails done, SG loves reflexology and DD is so relaxed during hand massage.

All service users both male and female avail of and enjoy the therapies and look forward to their turn.

I feel great to see people relaxed during massage or proud after having a make up session. Giving beauty tips and chatting with the service users about their lives and family is enjoyable and building on our friendships each week.

The service users and staff are so appreciative of me and I often get a hug or a high five, which makes me look forward to each week with enthusiasm".
Angela Parsons
Úna O'Malley and Clodagh Jenkins (Volunteer)
Úna’s Story
"My name is Úna, I attend the Ridgepool Training Centre Ballina and I have a volunteer artist called Clodagh.

We have such fun bouncing art ideas and enjoying our new friendship. We meet for about an hour each Monday afternoon but we are flexible when necessary.

I am proud to say some of my best art work is hanging in the Ridgepool and I see a future for the friendship that has developed.

Clodagh and I also have shopping trips up town to get art supplies and a cuppa or a smoothie, we chat and laugh while swopping stories from our busy lives.

I really like and respect Clodagh for sharing her time and skills with me because my art has improved so much.
I have a friend in Clodagh, a fellow artist and "I do like Monday's"!
Úna O'Malley
Clodagh's Story

"I met  Úna through the Volunteering Department in Western Care Association and my interest in art.
Our match is very good as Úna  is an outgoing friendly girl who loves drawing and painting.
We chat while painting and go out town as we please for art supplies, coffee or smoothies.
I feel valued, fulfilled and happy volunteering probably because Úna and I are well matched.  I love being able to use my skills in art and see the progress and joy I bring to such a lovely girl.
We chat about  Úna's  interests like soaps, make up and music and my interests in art, cookery and interior design.  We also catch up on our family news like weddings, christenings and general chat.
Úna and I enjoy going to Caffery's art studio to see paintings by other artists and we discuss techniques used.
I consider Úna a new friend and feel our friendship will grow because we have fun together and are comfortable with each other".  
Yes "I like Monday's too"!
Clodagh Jenkins                                                
Volunteer Story - Jonathon Myles
"I had just completed my degree within social care in WIT, and had returned home to Mayo.  I was eager to gain some essential experience within the particular social care sector that Western Care facilitated.  Prior to being placed within my volunteer position I was unsure of what to expect.  I was linked with John and Ian who were best friends with each other already, and whom attend the Cluainin Day service in Crossmolina.  They were very welcoming and inviting from day one and we soon formed a positive friendship.  Whether we just went for a walk or a cup of tea it was evident to see that the one to one time I spent with them meant a great deal to both of them.  The time in which I have shared with these genuinely charismatic guys, has put a smile on my face.  It has also been a very rewarding and worthwhile experience that I would recommend to any one wishing to make a positive difference in somebody's life, and indeed their own".


Eamon & Irene's Story

"When I first volunteered for Western Care, I was unsure about where exactly I would fit in.  I met the Manager of the VTC Nuala and she invited me to come in and meet some of the people in the centre.  Since then I come into the centre on Monday mornings to spend time with people.  It’s a great opportunity to use my art skills with others who enjoy art.  From spending time with people I discovered that music is something that everyone enjoys.  I have a group of friends who play traditional music and we sometimes come to the centre on Friday afternoons for a sing song with the gang.  I would like to develop this further in the future with people in the centre.

From spending time with people in the VTC and getting to know them, I have built up many relationships.  I love it so much that I am now going to come for the full day and give some time to one young man out in the community. This is something I look forward to every week and wouldn’t miss it for the world".

Eamon Keane


Dorothy Caden (Parent)

"When I first heard that Paul was going to have a Volunteer, I was a bit concerned that they might not get on with each other or that the Volunteer might not understand Paul.  Having a volunteer involved with Paul has added a new dimension to Paul's life, by that I mean the things we all take for granted, like having a friend call for tea and chat, going shopping, going bowling or going for a pint together.
Harry has become a significant part of Paul's life. They have developed a wonderful relationship.  Paul looks forward to their time together every week and it has expanded his social circle.
For someone thinking of becoming a Volunteer, I would say the only special skill you need is "empathy" i.e. having a good understanding of people and being in tune with them.  It is also important to be reliable and not to let people down, as they look forward to their outing.
As a parent you may have initial concerns, be assured that Western Care have a process of vetting Volunteers and of introducing people gradually and as far as possible to ensuring their compatibility.  It is well worth it for the difference it makes to the person's life".  
Harry Whelan & Paul Caden
Harry has been volunteering with Western Care for over a year and before that was a Volunteer in the U.S.A.
Harry and Paul meet up for a few hours once a week to do different activities together.  This may be shopping, bowling, going for a pint or a cup of tea and a chat, whatever the occcasion calls for.
"The return from a few hours volunteering far outweighs the time and effort spent, especially when you see how much someone looks forward to your visit and what it means to them".  (Harry).
"Harry is my friend.  I love going out with him and being able to phone him up for a chat".  (Paul).
Tony McNeela & Philip Pomerleau
Tony has been volunteering with Western Care for many years.  He has more recently been linked with Philip who was keen to have a male friend to do activities with.  Every Wednesday Tony and Philip go bowling together in Castlebar.  Afterwards they enjoy tea and scones before heading home.
"I realy look forward to Tony collecting me. I love going bowling with him and having a cuppa with him. He's my buddy". (Philip).
"I enjoy volunteering and hope that I am bringing something good into Philip's life".  (Tony)