At the launch, Irish Red Cross Chairman Pat Carey said “the Irish Red Cross is involved in many projects and initiatives, both at home and abroad, but the statistics regarding our volunteers are particularly impressive for 2016, which is why we are focusing on them today. The volunteers working in support of the Irish Red Cross form a humanitarian force made up of thousands of people throughout the country who seek to be part of the catalyst of change in their communities. Voluntary service adds a value that cannot be replicated – it saves people’s lives.”
The Irish Red Cross aims to provide impartial humanitarian services and support to vulnerable communities both at home and abroad and there are approximately 4,000 Irish Red Cross volunteers around the country. These volunteers provide first-response services in local communities and in the 2015-2016 storms, Irish Red Cross volunteers were among the first to respond, coming to the aid of many, including farmers and individual householders, to assist them with floods defences, transfers from homes to hospitals and the clean-up. A total of €3,200,000 was distributed on behalf of the Government to small businesses and community/sporting groups in emergency compensation to enable them to get back on their feet. As drinking water had become contaminated by the floods the Irish Red Cross distributed 7,000 litres of safe drinking water to households.
The Irish Red Cross made a significant contribution just two weeks ago during Storm Ophelia. 38 units of the Irish Red Cross were on standby across the country during the severe weather and this proved crucial as volunteers made 17 call-outs on Monday and Tuesday due to the conditions. These call-outs saw volunteers transfer patients to hospital, and from hospital to nursing homes, while volunteers also facilitated transfers for essential hospital staff to work.
Minister for Defence, Paul Kehoe noted at the launch; “I am delighted to be here today at the launch of the Irish Red Cross’ Annual Report.” The Minister thanked the Irish Red Cross for the administration and distribution of emergency humanitarian funds on behalf of the Government following severe weather events. The funding was provided to small businesses, community, voluntary and sporting organisations who had their premises damaged as a result of the floods in late 2015 and early 2016. He also acknowledged their ongoing assistance on a similar scheme for Donegal following the floods in Inishowen last August.
€200,000 has been given to organisations and businesses including a number of sports clubs in the aftermath of the Donegal floods from the Government Emergency Humanitarian Scheme. €60,000 of money raised from the general public has been distributed to households so far.
The annual report sets out the financial outcome for 2016, showing a consolidated income of €6.945m and expenditure of €7.613m. This reflects the income and expenditure for the entire organisation in Ireland.
A focus for the Society in 2016 was ensuring the Governance of the organisation met the high standards set out in the Governance Code. The appointment of an external advisor to attend some Board meetings and evaluate its performance has helped to improve the effectiveness of its governance. Mazars Ireland was requested to conduct an internal governance review. The outcome of this exercise identified five areas of low to medium risk. Four were acted upon in 2016 and the final area was completed in 2017.
A three day workshop was conducted in December 2011 aiming at familiarizing staff and volunteers of Maldivian Red Crescent with the general concept of violence prevention on how to use the ten steps resource.
As the largest provider of first aid training in Ireland, 8,749 people were trained in 2016. This training was provided in schools, community settings and in businesses.
Inaugural Irish Red Cross National Volunteer Awards
The first ever Irish Red Cross National Volunteer Awards were held in 2016 at Farmleigh House. These awards celebrate the work of the charity’s humanitarian volunteers and the chosen winner of the Irish Red Cross Volunteer of the Year award was Mary Prout from Nenagh, Co Tipperary. As well as working as a full-time carer for the HSE, Mary has volunteered her evenings and weekends keeping her community safe by training fellow Irish Red Cross volunteers and members of the public in first aid and providing first aid cover at local rallies, fun days and concerts.
Migration remains a key focus for the Irish Red Cross. In the autumn of 2015, the Irish Red Cross was asked by the Department of Justice and Equality to manage pledges for accommodation, goods, and services made by the Irish public on a charitable basis in response to the Syrian refugee crisis. We are currently matching families and individual clients based in Mosney and Ballaghaderreen Emergency Reception and Orientation Centres with our accommodation pledges across the country and our volunteers are on hand throughout the country to assist with the settlement of migrants in their new communities.
In terms of Irish Red Cross work internationally, the Irish Red Cross has been working to help communities fight back against climate change and food insecurities in Niger for over a decade.
The Irish Red Cross has seven delegates working in areas of conflict throughout the world, with two in Yemen alone. The delegates come from a range of professional backgrounds and have very specific expertise.
Nearly four years ago, the strongest typhoon ever known to make landfall, ravaged the Philippines and triggered one of the world’s biggest humanitarian relief and recovery operation. As part of this recovery effort, the Philippine Red Cross with support from the Irish Red Cross supported disaster-affected communities to recovery from the impact of the disaster through different sectoral interventions. This included investing €1.2m in support of emergency relief, for shelter, water and sanitation, and for disaster risk reduction initiatives.
Furthermore, 2016 saw the Irish Red Cross complete its livelihoods programme in the Philippines which supported 1,800 families in nine communities through a diverse range of strategies in promoting their household level economic security.