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IOSH recognises members’ volunteering in Ireland

Sound bites

“Volunteering is a natural extension of my job” – Yvette Moffatt

“I call myself a safety elder – I make my experience count by volunteering” – Deirdre Sinnott McFeat

Over 1,000 members worldwide volunteer for IOSH in many ways. They contribute so much and we’re grateful for everything they do.

This week (17–23 May) we celebrate National Volunteering Week in Ireland. IOSH members in Ireland who work on the committees of our Branches, Districts and Sections, as mentors, peer reviewers or in other capacities, give their time voluntarily. They do fantastic work to keep the membership informed, updated, and connected.

We want to take this opportunity to recognise the enormous contribution made by our volunteers. Thanks to their generosity, commitment, and selflessness, we can achieve far more together ­– and for many more people – than we otherwise could. We owe them a lot for helping to make IOSH such a vibrant and active organisation.

There are big differences between doing something like this as a job and offering time freely to help others. IOSH members are so much richer for the hours, the attention, the support and the creativity our volunteers invest in activities for them.

Why volunteer?

Speaking to IOSH volunteers, you could be forgiven for thinking that the volunteering can be a full-time job in itself. You can be extremely busy, depending on the particular voluntary role that you have, and it means being accountable to others. So, what is it that makes IOSH members take on this extra set of tasks and responsibilities?

For Deirdre Sinnott McFeat, Chair of the South Eastern District of IOSH’s Ireland South Branch, the cliché of wanting to put something back into the profession was what initially led her to give her time. “I wanted to reinvigorate the safety conversation and re-engage the profession,” she says.

But as she herself developed professionally, her focus began to change. Now she is concentrating on using her standing, experience, and national and international contacts to enrich the District and its membership.

I’m an influencer and an enabler. I influence Committee members to give back to the IOSH cause and I try to help them with their personal and professional development. I enable volunteer networking opportunities, peer support, opportunities to learn and develop expertise, and the promotion of health and safety topics in the local area.

Having been the Chair of the Ireland East Branch for four years, Yvette Moffatt remains active on the Branch Committee. She understands that her role is vital in providing support for other members.

What I realised is that a lot of health and safety professionals tend to be in a team of one in their organisations. It’s really important to be able to talk to peers and mix with like-minded people – to vent and discuss, get support and share ideas. We’re all as good as our learning, so having a network that puts on events and conferences about topical subjects is vital for raising our professional standards. That’s one of the reasons I got involved in the Committee.”

Making a difference by volunteering for IOSH

In volunteering, there is a passion, a conviction and a determination to do something well, not because of the promise of a financial reward, but because of some less obvious return. Deirdre gains great satisfaction in knowing that her contribution can make a difference. She says:

With more than 23 years of experience in regulatory occupational safety and health, I have a position of influence and authority and I feel that I can use this to good effect to, for example, attract high-quality speakers to our meetings.

Yvette measures it in terms of a sense of achievement and fulfilment, and this seems to be a common factor for many IOSH volunteers:

When you finish running an event and people come up to you to saying, ‘that discussion really helped my thinking and I’m going to introduce that process or practice in my workplace’ – that’s a real satisfaction that I get.”

One of Yvette’s main goals is to see graduate members move on to Chartered status quickly, rather than years after achieving Grad status. So she decided to join the IOSH Mentoring Scheme and since then has helped three Graduate members to gain Chartered status – an achievement of which she is justly proud.

Giving time and effort can also be a chance to enhance your own skills or gain valuable experience. Yvette says, “Volunteering has helped with my professional development. You need – or soon learn – marketing and organisational skills. But benefitting from teamwork is second to none.”

Volunteering and IOSH values

In the IOSH context, voluntary action is a powerful way in which members demonstrate in practice the values that are inherent in IOSH’s Code of Conduct: integrity, respect, competence and service.

Deserving of recognition

Do you know of someone whose volunteering for IOSH deserves recognition? Perhaps you could consider nominating them for one of IOSH’s Presidential Awards. See for criteria and nominations.

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