Pictured above from left to right: Richard Lynch, Isabella Cioccolini, Francesco Sorrenti, Magalie Monnier, Saskia Longauer and Niamh Higgins. The service user in the wheelchair is Willie McAuliffe. Picture by Dolf Patijn.
Magalie Monnier from France and Isabella Cioccolini from Italy are two European volunteers who have come to the end of their year of voluntary service in Rathfredagh Cheshire Home.
Rathfredagh Cheshire Home is a residential home for physically challenged people just outside Newcastle West. The home started availing of the EVS programme in 2000 and over the last few years there have been four volunteers in the house every year. The European voluntary service has become an almost vital addition to the service in Rathfredagh Cheshire Home because the volunteers are there to assist service users with all sorts of activities in the house like playing cards or bingo and other games, assist with the use of computers and social media, but also accompany service users on outings and help them integrate into the society. While they work in Rathfredagh they learn new skills and get training in assisting people who are physically challenged. They also learn about the service users’ backgrounds. The service users in return learn more about the countries that the volunteers come from. Volunteers often become friends with service users and some of them come back to Ireland to visit after their year is finished. A lot of volunteers also stay in contact with service users through Facebook and Skype.
Magalie and Isabella live with the two other volunteers in a house in Newcastle West. In their free time they socialise in the community. Besides going to the pubs, they joined a local soccer club and they went to Irish set dance classes.
During their stay in Ireland they were surprised to learn that a lot of young people in Ireland don’t know about the European Voluntary Service. They contacted ilovelimerick.com because they really enjoyed their experience in Ireland and they would like to promote the EVS programme to Irish people. The European Voluntary Service is now part of the Erasmus+ programme. The hosting organisation in Ireland is Léargas. If you want to take part, you have to be in between 17 and 30 years of age. There are different projects in different countries. Just google Erasmus+ and EVS or go to the Léargas website here where you can choose European Voluntary Service from the list in programmes.
Magalie and Isabella really enjoyed their experience and feel that it has enriched their lives and also helped to build on skill sets they can use later on in live like problem solving, creative thinking, team work and disability awareness. They highly recommend the EVS as an opportunity not to be missed.
Magalie and Isabella are leaving at the end of February and would like to thank staff and service users in Rathfredagh and the people of Newcastle West for their hospitality and kindness. They hope to come back for a visit soon.