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Annual Report 2014

On the website and on social media, we have been reliving #40yearsofmemories sharing articles from the last four decades of Focus magazine and its predecessors...

Johnny Sheehan, Chair of Comhlรกmh.


Contents 4





Vision, Mission & Values




Programme Updates


Future Plans


Code of Good Practice Signatories


Member and Sending Agency Groups














Foreword Foreword from the Chairperson. I’ve been telling anyone who’ll listen that 2015, the European Year for Development, is a pivotal year for all humanity. Not only will the Millennium Development Goals give way to a new global framework, the Sustainable Development Goals, but a new global agreement on climate change will also be hammered out. Fittingly, it is also the year that Comhlámh turns 40 years old. Comhlámh was established by returned development workers in 1975 with the aim of bringing their overseas experience to bear in order to advance international development cooperation. This was extended to anyone committed to global development, solidarity and the objectives of Comhlámh. The last decade or so since the closure of APSO has seen a revival in international volunteering with new models and forms. We have engaged actively with this and as ever connecting this to our commitment to fighting for global justice. A 40th Anniversary committee has been busy planning ways to mark the year. On the website and on social media, we have been reliving #40yearsofmemories sharing articles from the last four decades of Focus magazine and its predecessors - ranging from the experiences of the Dunnes Stores strikers in protesting apartheid to John Byrne’s provocative and still hugely relevant cartoons on ‘Democracy Street’.

Johnny Sheehan Chairperson.

Our new base at 12 Parliament Street has been a hive of activity over the year and has situated Comhlámh at the centre of the struggle for global justice. The Freire room and the Marius Schoon Member’s room have been used by 54 groups bringing in over 1,700 members, supporters, and activists of all shapes and colours working for global justice. Following major Board turnover in 2013, the last 12 months was characterised by bedding down of the Board and building its capacity to deliver on Comhlámh’s strategy. Two new Board members came on in 2014 and brought new energy and commitment to our work. We have said farewell to a number of board members, staff members and interns as they go on to bigger and better things but we’ve also welcomed new people into the Comhlámh family bringing fresh skills and experience. To return to the Comhlámh anniversary, just still being here after 40


Nuala McNulty of the anti-fracking group Love Leitrim, Sr Majella McCarron & Terence Conway share their experiences at an exhibition of photos and statements looking at resistance to the Corrib Gas project in Co Mayo

Our new base at 12 Parliament Street has been a hive of activity over the year and has situated Comhlámh at the centre of the struggle for global justice.

years is an achievement. A huge part of that is down to the staff and members who routinely go above and beyond what is expected of them in realising the vision and mission of Comhlámh. I would like to thank our partners and funders, in particular Irish Aid along with Concern Worldwide, Trócaire, VSO Ireland and Concord (DEEEP). Building on this we have successfully launched the Solidarity Partnership programme and we are grateful to those NGOs who have joined this programme in 2014 - SERVE, Nurture Africa, EIL-Intercultural Learning, Umbrella Foundation, Vincentian Lay Missionaries, and those who have joined in 2015 - Irish League of Credit Unions Foundation, Irish Rule of Law, Misean Cara, UCD Volunteers Overseas, Viatores Christi, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, Sarah Bird Foundation and Christian Aid. This will support our ability to support returning volunteers stay involved and engaged in global development issues on their return to Ireland Our membership has grown by 60% over the last year, new energy has come in and helped re-energise the membership groups and initiate new ones. This work is supported by membership subscriptions and 27 of these members who have joined the Solidarity Circle and are making regular contributions of €10, €15 or €21 a month. This financial support is absolutely critical and we hope it will grow steadily so that the independence of action and support the membership activism of the membership groups that are underway. Ensuring the financial resources are in place will enable Comhlámh to continue to deliver across all our strategic plan objectives. Here’s to the next 40 years!


The launch of our survey on online volunteering took place in October with global pioneer of online or virtual volunteering, Jayne Cravens, delivering a seminar.

Report Introduction How do you review a year? One way is to look through numbers and the info-graphic highlights some of the vibe off Comhlámh in the last year. While numbers give one insight, it’s not the full story. Another way would be to read the online volunteer stories, read the blogs by staff, members, workshop participants and sending agency staff, review the Facebook posts, the twitter feed, read Focus magazine, read the policy papers, watch the online videos. But hopefully you’ve done that already, if you’ve read this far you might be tempted to look back! Of course, you could always just reflect back on the interactions you hopefully have had yourself at workshops, trainings, debates or social events. Another way to come at this would be to take the route of ‘Appreciative Enquiry’. ‘AE’ asks us to think of when we were at our best, what we were most proud of. It’s a more energetic manner to go about doing a review and most likely to inspire and motivate for the years to come. In 2014, some of my ‘stand out’ moments were the Health Service Executive’s recognition of Comhlámh as the ‘go to’ agency on responsible volunteering; the launching of new ‘core’ standards for the Comhlamh Code of Good Practice for Volunteer Sending Agencies; the launch of our new home with the mural of Marius Schoon attended by past members from each decade of Comhlámh going back to the 1970’s; the re-engagement with membership which has seen several new initiatives emerge including the new look

Focus; the return of the Comhlámh #Firstweds Debates; the launch of the new Comhlámh Belfast members’ group; the public awareness raising on the very worrying USA-EU trade and investment deal (TTIP) and finally but not least the launch of the Dympna Meaney Women’s Leadership Development Fund. 2015 is a landmark year, our 40th but more Mark Cumming importantly a pivotal moment as the global Head of Comhlámh. community decides on what direction to take post the MDG’s. Will it be characterised by a commitment to a rights based perspective, that places rights, sustainability and a commitment to the participation of those excluded from power at the centre of any programme. 2015 is also the EU year of development, at its core is the hope that it will engage people to become actively interested in development issues and contribute to debate and policy formulation. Comhlámh members given their global experiences are centrally placed to make a contribution to these debates.

Our 40th but more importantly a pivotal moment as the global community decides on what direction to take post the MDG’s... 6

Celebrity Chef Kevin Thornton takes part in a protest against TTIP organised by the TTIP Information Network, an iniative chaired by Comhlámh

I look forward to being in touch with as many of you as possible over the course of 2015 and I’ll sign off with a communication we received in the office recently:

membership. It was the first organisation I joined when new to Dublin and the fount of most of my friendships. So I intend to call into you early in the New Year to see what’s to do.”

“I have a New Year’s resolution to get active in Comhlámh. It was supposed to happen after your open day, but hopefully over Christmas holiday I’ll make time to read packs of info you have sent out. You seem to be doing great work, but having been on the Comhlámh Executive many years ago, I know Comhlámh is nothing unless it is driven by an active

Best regards


Constitution Comhlámh is a company limited by guarantee and not having a share capital. Comhlámh is a registered charity (CHY7680) and company limited by guarantee, and is governed by a Voluntary Board. Comhlámh’s Vision

Supporting Values

Our vision is of volunteers and development workers working in solidarity for a just, equitable and sustainable world.

Other values which are fundamental to our vision and objectives are:

Comhlámh’s Mission Our mission is to foster good practice and critical engagement in volunteering and action for development Comhlámh’s Values The core values in achieving our vision and which underlie the overarching purpose of Comhlámh are: Solidarity – unity that produces or is based on a community of interests, objectives, and standards and results in mutual support within this community. Sustainability – the long-term maintenance of wellbeing which includes the concept of protecting and managing resources responsibly. Justice - the upholding of what is just, especially fair treatment and due reward in accordance, with honour, standards, and law.

The Comhlámh Development Education Working Group organised a Swap Til You Drop which diverted 154.1kg of clothing from going to the landfill.


Equality - equal rights for people regardless of what factors they might have that are different. Equality states that because they are human they must be equal. Diversity - encompasses acceptance and respect, understanding that each individual is unique, and recognising our individual differences. Independence - not to rely on or be controlled by others; self-subsistence or maintenance; direction of one’s own affairs without interference, that is, self-governing. Transparency - ensure all relevant information is fully and freely available to the public. Accountability - liable to be held to account and be answerable for one’s actions.

Be the leading independent voice and source of information on volunteering for development in Ireland.

Key Objectives Daragh Mangan of the Edith Wilkins Foundation takes part in our Thunderclap social media campaign to raise awareness of the #VolunteerCharter! estia.

Comhlåmh’s objectives for 2014, as set out in the strategic plan are: Be the leading independent voice and source of information on volunteering for development in Ireland. Strengthen our role and position as coordinator and advocate of good practice in volunteering for development. Promote and support volunteers and development workers to critically engage in volunteering and action for development. Grow and engage our members and network to create societal and attitudinal change on development issues.


Key Activities Launching and promoting the #VolOps social media tools to link potential volunteers with responsible volunteering opportunities; we reached 200,000 members of the public through our promotional work, and additionally published and disseminated over 5,000 information leaflets targeting potential volunteers from the health and pre-retirement sectors, as well as general information for interested members of the public. Organising the first Irish Aid Volunteer Fair to be held in Dublin Castle’s Printworks, and providing information inputs at a range of other fairs, information sessions, and discussions. Updating and reprinting our Volunteer Charter, which was given out to 1,000 volunteers. Strengthening the system for assessing adherence to core standards with the Comhlámh Code of Good Practice (COGP), and getting widespread support for this system from all Code signatories, as well as introducing an independent assessment panel which deemed twelve signatories to have met the core standards. Supporting signatory Volunteer Sending Agencies (VSAs) to build their own and each others’ capacity through peer support meetings (attended by reps of a total of 37 VSAs), training workshops and capacity building grants (involving 36 VSAs), and facilitating bilateral linkages and informal workshops on issues of common interest (21 VSAs). Publishing the second annual report on international volunteering from Ireland, in addition to discussion papers on the significant emerging trends of diaspora volunteering and online volunteering. Providing pre-decision, pre-departure and

Our social media based volunteer information service #VolOps was launched at the Irish Aid Fair in October.


post-return training for over 500 volunteers to encourage responsible, responsive volunteering; and supporting sending agencies to mainstream this training into their work. Supporting development workers to protect their social welfare and pension rights while overseas, including through the administration of the Volunteer Development Worker PRSI Scheme and the Public Service Pension Scheme for Volunteer Development Workers. Delivering training for volunteers to support their continued engagement in development issues post assignment through courses such as the What Next programme, the Skills in Development Education and Trade Justice courses. Influencing European policy on volunteering, through contributing to the development of recommendations on standards and certification for the EU Aid Volunteers Initiative & accessing DEEEP funding for a pan European Continuous Engagement curriculum. Through active support for Membership groups, support and facilitation has been provided to new regional and thematic groups (Comhlámh Belfast and the Dympna Meaney Women’s Leadership Development Fund) during the year providing a platform for continued engagement and activism on development issues.

A Visualisation Of Our Year
















400% 261 23,243



50% 2,592 3,754 1,008 315 166





41% 192K 444










Part of the time table for our seminar and report launch looking at online volunteering.

Programme Updates Be the leading independent voice and source of information on volunteering for development in Ireland. Comhlámh attended / delivered information sessions on responsible volunteering to various audiences including at college fairs, One World Centres, retirement groups, public service workers in Agriculture and the Defence Forces. Outreach included engagement with the health sector through networking with the Health Services Executive, the Irish Forum for Global Health and personnel in teaching hospitals responsible for medical electives. Further outreach took place with the third level sector through engagement with Campus Engage, which is a third level initiative part of the Higher Education Authority’s work to promote greater third level engagement with community and voluntary activity. Our new website and online presence has received much favourable comment with 42,648 users on the new website, 171,789 page views, 4,225 reads of our resources on ISSUU and 5,691 minutes of video viewed on YouTube. Over 200,000 people were reached with information on responsible volunteering through articles across various publications including, Hotpress, Senior Times,, Ear to the Ground, and the Irish Nurses and Midwives publication and that of Impact along with adverts on radio and college fresher packs. On behalf of Irish Aid, a Volunteering Fair was organised and held in October; it was attended by just over 270 people, and included the launch of the #VolOps suite of materials by the Minister of State for Trade and Development.

On behalf of Irish Aid, a Volunteering Fair was organised and held in October; it was attended by just over 300 people... 12

Comhlámh has received support from LinkedIn to provide VSAs with training and free services to harness the potential of this platform to reach potential volunteers. The Comhlámh Volunteer Charter with the support of the Options and Issues group was revamped with over 1,000 copies distributed.

Strengthen our role and position as coordinator and advocate of good practice in volunteering for development. Our work on supporting volunteers at all stages throughout the continuum has been recognised internationally, and in 2014, Comhlámh representatives were invited to participate in conferences and workshops held in Latvia, Germany, Belgium, France and the United Kingdom. Staff input to conferences and workshops included talks on volunteering

Programme Updates Cont’d. and “orphanage tourism” (coordinated by Save the Children in the UK), medical electives/ partnership in health sector volunteering (IFGH, Dublin), valuing volunteering research being conducted by VSO (Brighton), partner and civil society engagement in the EU Aid Volunteers Initiative (Brussels), diaspora volunteering (Global Diaspora and Development Forum, UCD’s Clinton Institute), and policy and practice in third level volunteering (Making a Difference? Perspectives on International Volunteering at Higher Education, UCD Volunteers Overseas, Dublin). By the end of 2014 there were 36 signatories to the Comhlámh Code of Good Practice: 7 signatories ceased operations or sending volunteers while several new agencies have become signatories. Agreement was reached with the VSAs for a new tiered structure of compliance recognition for signatories, 10 VSAs qualified as meeting ‘core’ standards thus giving recognition to their achievements in complying with the Comhlámh Code of Good Practice. Comhlámh actively supported the networking and exchange of information among Code signatories during the year through two peer support meetings attended by 35 signatories, and through tailored trainings on debriefing, supervision for debriefers and child safeguarding. The Code signatories Volunteering and Development Education group finalised work on Learning Journals for volunteers and launched the ‘Tell it on a Tuesday’ story-telling events which took place twice in 2014. This group was also supported to attend international events on Volunteering and Global Development in Europe and South America.

Sioban O’Brien Green, with Minister of State Sean Sherlock and Comhlámh’s Head Mark Cumming pictured at the Irish Aid Fair in October 2014.


Programme Updates Cont’d. Promote and support volunteers and development workers to critically engage in volunteering and action for development. Comhlámh supported or organised tailored pre-departure training for 400 volunteers from several of the VSAs. As part of our work to support VSAs, ten personnel attended a training of trainers course to support them put in place post-return services for their volunteers. Comhlámh continues to manage the Volunteer Development Worker (VDW) and Public Service Pension Scheme (PSPS), processing 191 applications in total. Comhlámh commenced an engagement with Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) to ensure volunteers are not disadvantaged in accessing higher level education grants by virtue of their time volunteering. The 8th edition of the popular ‘Coming Home Guide’ was produced with 400 copies disseminated through VSAs. Comhlámh continued to organise referrals for returned volunteers and development workers for counselling, debriefing, and careers advice. Agreements for these services were renewed with agencies including the UNV, the Rapid Response Corps and VSO Ireland. Comhlámh staff have undertaken a small number of debriefing sessions for those volunteers unable to afford these services. Comhlámh organised a number of “Coming Home Weekends” for longer term volunteers and development workers and “Moving Forward” days for shorter term placements. Comhlámh ran a series of courses to train and build the capacity of returnees to remain involved in global justice issues, following an overseas placement: the Skills in Development Education course (10 weeks), the Trade Justice course (6 weeks) and the What Next course (residential weekend plus two follow-up days). Comhlámh also revamped the content of the ‘Be the Change’ programme and ran this for students in conjunction with UCD Volunteers Overseas (UCDVO). A series of First Wednesday Debates #FirstWeds were held through the year touching on themes resonating from within discussions in membership. Themes covered included Trade, Palestine/ Israel, EU-USA trade agreement - TTIP, Mining, and Gender Based Violence. These are held in the Twisted Pepper and have connected Comhlámh to new membership and new networks.

UCDVO show their mass support for the #VolunteerCharter campaign at a pre-departure training.


Programme Updates Cont’d. Grow and engage our members and network to create societal and attitudinal change on development issues. Over the course of 2014, over 50 groups, including membership groups, diaspora, local and global advocacy groups have held workshops, trainings, briefings with over 1,700 people attending in our new premises in Temple Bar. These events have helped introduce people to international volunteering while also connecting people up on return from assignment to development activities in Ireland. The Focus magazine group produced 3 self-financing copies of Focus, adopting a broadsheet style and positioning itself as the voice of returned volunteers and development workers with a critical and independent analysis of local/global issues. The print run was raised to 5,000 copies from 3,000, with a revamped distribution network covering members, development NGOs, colleges, libraries, community activist groups, etc.. The Trade Justice Group led a successful initiative promoting the Alternative Trade Mandate (ATM) in the run-up to the EU elections in 2014 with 13 MEP candidates signing the ATM Pledge, the group also networked with partners in the Clean Clothes Campaign to advocate for the rights of garment workers impacted by the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh. Comhlámh took the initiative to convene and chair a network to work on the impending EU:USA trade deal known as Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) out of which the TTIP Information Network has been created with its own social media presence and a number of successful public workshops and media exposure. The new Comhlámh Belfast group is up and running and has organised a number of events including a film-night and has plans in 2015 for work on a development education resource on fracking / mining. Former Comhlámh members involved in the Women’s Group in the 1980s/90s re-joined Comhlámh to create the Dympna Meaney Womens’ Leadership Development Fund to support women activists in the global south with small training grants. The Options and Issues group have been active in supporting the new edition of the Volunteer Charter and are supporting the development of a new online pre-departure training programme. The Creative Writing group has provided an outlet for returned volunteers to engage in creative writing. The Returnee and Member meet up group organised two meet up nights.

Grainne O’Neill, the Volunteer Engagement Project Officer, kick starts one of the Tell It On A Tuesday events in Smithfield.


Comhlámh took the initiative to convene and chair a network to work on the impending EU:USA trade deal known as TTIP.n

Monitoring and Evaluation Comhlámh monitors and evaluates its work on an on-going basis. The first Results Based Framework developed for 2012-2013 was revised and sharpened based on learning acquired for the 2014-2015 period. This will guide the organisation’s activities over the period 2014 – 2015. This facilitates both monitoring of activities, and the evaluation of longer-term impact. Day-to-day monitoring and evaluation were ongoing throughout the year, through activities including regular course evaluations, workshop and meeting evaluations, and requests for feedback from key stakeholders. These activities are a critical part of Comhlámh’s work, and enable us to reflect on an ongoing basis on what has been successful, and make adjustments, where needed.

Future Plans. Membership

Much progress has been made in 2014 with a renewed focus on creating the spaces for membership to connect and work on issues of concern. 16

One of the four strategic objectives relates to engaging our membership and the wider network within which we are situated. Comhlámh recognises the need to engage and strengthen its membership. Over 2014 the discourse of ‘returning to our roots’ has been shared with members past and present and has contributed to a 68% growth in membership. Comhlámh has revamped the meaning of Membership groups mean in Comhlámh, which is allowing members to initiate and drive new areas of work that are burning for members at any particular time. Much progress has been made in 2014 with a renewed focus on creating the spaces for membership to connect and work on issues of concern. With several active groups including: Options and Issues, Trade Justice, Focus, Belfast, Dympna Meaney Fund, Creative Writing, 40th Anniversary and a new group working on a Development Education course on the Palestine/Israel conflict, the challenge is to provide appropriate levels of staff support for these. Further work will also be needed to support the governance of these groups, while also practically supporting their activism.

Funding Comhlámh has been an organisation that sources the majority of its funding to deliver its strategic objectives from donor funders. The levels of funding from Irish Aid had reached almost 90% before the financial crisis in Ireland. This dependency was not sustainable or viable for the independent and critical association we aim to be and diversification of

Future Plans Cont’d. funding to get the Irish Aid ratio closer to 60% is underway. Improving financial sustainability remains a key challenge for the organisation. Comhlámh will continue to identify funding opportunities for all of the work that it is involved in so as to expand its donor base with particular attention paid towards the wider European environment and opportunities for unrestricted funding. A funding sub-group of the Board has been established with whose help much progress was made in 2014 with new sources of income being developed with the launching of our Solidarity Circle and Solidarity Partnership schemes. These are to be further developed in 2015.

Responsible Volunteering Estimates of the numbers involved in international volunteering suggest that approximately 2,000 people from Ireland each year are involved. Many of these are under the age of 25 and going for short term assignments. As a result Comhlámh has a crucial role to support critical engagement with issues of volunteering and action for development with volunteers, the wider public and the COGP signatories. We will continue to play a lead in supporting the delivery of the Irish Aid Volunteering Initiative in our roles as sectoral leader in the development and promotion of international volunteering standards nationally and at European and international levels. This includes liaising with organisations in countries that look at the model of practice developed in Ireland.

Development Education and Continuous Engagement A Development Education perspective continues to cross-cut all of our work, especially the Code of Good Practice. We will continue to integrate it across all our work including trainings, courses etc. The move back to opening out to Membership groups in Comhlámh will provide a platform for those returning volunteers and development workers, to take on justice issues they see as important. Comhlámh as part of its role in facilitating returnees integration back into life in Ireland and engagement in action for development, will re-invigorate its connections with local development actors, thereby acting as a bridge way for people to work on local and global issues.

Sr Helen Spragg, Lassane Ouedraogo and Mark Cumming at the Rwanda Genocide commemoration hosted by Comhlámh


Code of Good Practice Signatories Organisation Name.


Action Lesotho Agape Adventures Ashirbad Chernobyl Children's Project International Christina Noble Children's Foundation Development Perspectives Draiocht EIL Intercultural Learning

Core Standards

Friends of Africa Friends of Londiani Ireland

Core Standards

Global Emergency Care Skills Global Schoolroom Habitat for Humanity Northern Ireland Habitat for Humanity, Ireland

Core Standards

Immunisation 4 Life Irish League of Credit Unions Foundation Irish Rule of Law International Lรกmha Suas Mellon Educate Missonaries of the Sacred Heart Music Harvest

Core Standards

Nurture Africa

Core Standards

Operation Smile Salesians Ireland (SAVIO) SCOOP Foundation SERVE

Core Standards

Suas Educational Development

Core Standards

The Hope Foundation Umbrella Foundation University College Dublin Volunteers Overseas (UCDVO) Viatores Christi Vincentian Lay Missionaries (VLM)

Core Standards

Voluntary Service International (VSI) Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO)

Core Standards

Volunteer Missionary Movement (VMM)

Core Standards



Participants in a training for facilitators workshop in the Paulo Freire room on the third floor of our building.

Member Groups Group

Staff Support

Trade Justice.

Grainne O’Neill.

Focus Magazine.

James Redmond.

Options and Issues Group.

Roisin Boyle.

Creative Writing Group.

Grainne O’Neill. Mide Ni Bhriain & Jenny Fay

Members and Returnee Meet ups.

Mide Ni Bhriain

First Wednesday Debates.

James Redmond.

Comhlámh Belfast.

Grainne O’Neill.

Israel / Palestine Dev Ed Group.

Hilary Minch

Dympna Meaney Fund.

Mark Cumming

Rwanda Genocide 20th Commemoration.

Mide Ni Bhriain

Sending Agency Working Groups. Volunteering and Development Education. Staff Support: Grainne O’Neill. Caroline O’Connor (UCDVO), Kevin Murphy (Nurture Africa), Siobhán Hughes (SERVE), Rose Hennessey (Friends of Londiani). We would like to give our thanks and appreciation to Paula Quigley (SERVE), Tara McGrath (EIL) and Mary Coogan (VSO) who have since moved on from their roles in these organisations and who made a huge contribution to the group. Volunteering Options Working Group.

Staff Support: Shannette Budhai.

Sarah Marshall (VSO), Mary Anne Stokes (VLM), Tom Ryder (VSI), Una Deasy (EIL Intercultural Learning), Chris O’Donoghue (SERVE), Stephen Jenkinson (The Umbrella Foundation), Fran Egan (former volunteer), Gavin Hennessy (Nurture Africa), Dervla King (Comhlamh) Research and Policy Advisory Group.

Staff Support: Siobán O’Brien Green

Anne Matthews (Dublin City University), Mags Liddy (University of Limerick), James O’Brien (VSO), Eilish Dillon (Kimmage DSC), Helene Perold (Helene Perold & Associates - South Africa), Sharon Prado (UCD), Dervla King (Comhlámh)


Directors The Board of Directors and roles since the 2014 AGM were as follows: Johnny Sheehan


Katherine Meenan


Glenn Bradley


Nita Mishra

Staff liaison

Sharon Doyle

Risk Officer

Emer Kerrigan Robin Hanan Noel Wardick Gertrude Cotter Arthur Gaffney

Mary van Lieshout, Mark Cumming and Senator Ivana Bacik at the launch of The Dympna Meaney Women’s Leadership Development Fund in The Mansion House.


Dympna Meaney Fund liaison

The resistance choir sing to a rapt audience on Culture Night.

Staff Mark Cumming

Head of Comhlámh (4.5 days)

Dervla King

Programme Manager (4 days)

Elena Garcia

Finance and Admin Manager (4 days)

Susan Collins

Organisation and Programme Support Administrator (3 days)

Róisín Boyle

Training and Education Officer (4 days)

Janet Horner

Information and Support Officer (4 days) (left October 2014)

Hilary Minch

Information and Support Officer (4 days (commenced October 2014)

Grainne O’Neill

Volunteer Engagement Officer (4 days)

James Redmond

Communications Officer (4 days)

Shannette Budhai

Volunteering Quality Officer (5 days)

Siobán O’Brien Green

Research and Policy Officer (3 days)

Ken Byrne

Receptionist (CCVG) (2.5 days)

Anne-Marie Gallagher

Receptionist (CCVG) (2.5 days)

Colm Ashe

Training and Quality Intern (Jobsbridge) (left July)

Anne-Marie Butler

Communications Intern (Jobsbridge) (commenced December)

Mide Ni Bhriain

NUIM Applied Social Studies Student (3 months)

Jenny Fay

NUIM Applied Social Studies Student (3 months)

Fleachta Phelan

Career Break



Detailed Directors’ report and Financial statements are produced in a report to the Companies Office which is available online at


Supporting the European Citizens’ Iniative agaisnt TTIP and CETA was at the centre of our trade work.

Acknowledgements. Comhlámh would like to acknowledge the support it has received from various parties who have supported and engaged with our work on a voluntary basis: Nahid Dabiri for her work gathering up and publishing the Volunteer Stories series Kate Saveljeva and Conor Grogan for their work in producing the 8th edition of the Coming Home Book. Jayne Cravens for her workshop on online volunteering Fulya Ozkul for her archival/library work in the Member’s Room and Mark Tynan, UCD Library, for his assistance with archiving our materials. Lianne Murphy from Age Action and Liam Ashe from Probus in Limerick for assistance with our information leaflet for retirees; Dr David Weakliam, HSE, and the staff of VSO, for assistance with our information leaflet for medical personnel Helen Spragg (Medical Missionaries of Mary) for her support and facilitation of the 20th Anniversary Commemoration of the genocide in Rwanda. Claire Glavey (UNV), Sean O’Connell (UCDVO), Mags Stanley (Friend’s of Londiani), Brian Cranmer (VMM) for their role as panellists in the Irish Aid Volunteering Fair sharing their experiences of volunteering. France Volontaires, FOCSIV (Italy), Clong Volontariat (France) and Zavod Volontariat (Slovenia) for sharing their policy expertise on volunteering in humanitarian contexts. The Lord Mayor of Dublin for the use of the Oak Room for the launch of the Dympna Meaney fund and Senator Ivana Bacik for her role as keynote speaker at the event and Gerry Gaynor who prepared the food. Yanky Fachler chair of the Jewish Historical Society of Ireland, Rachel O’ Hanlon a returned EAPPI volunteer, Joanna Tuffy T.D., and Caoimhe de Barra Director of Trócaire’s International Division for their participation in the debate ‘Israel / Palestine, Peace Talks without End or Conflict without end’. Thanks to Shona Murray of Newstalk for her role as moderator of this debate.


Dan O’Brien Chief Economist of the Institute of International and European Affairs, Conall O’Caoimh Director of Value Added in Africa, Peter Gaynor Executive Director of Fairtrade Ireland and Alfredo Ortega Vice-Chair of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers’ Association for their participation in the debate ‘The Fair Trade Debate - We need Trade not Aid’. Thanks also to Dr Niamh Gaynor of DCU for her role as moderator. Chris O’Connell, Latin America Solidarity Centre, Karen Jeffares returned volunteer with Peace Brigades International and Dr Amanda Slevin sociologist who specialises in the subject of Irish state hydrocarbon management for their participation in ‘The great energy debate - Who should control our natural resources’. Thanks also to Tom Campbell, Lecturer in Environmental Studies, Kimmage Development Studies Centre for his role as moderator. Barry Finnegan lecturer at the Faculty of Journalism & Media Communications in Griffith College Dublin and Mark Redmond Chief Executive of the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland for their participation in ‘The TTIP Deal: Who Will Benefit?’. Thanks also to Noel Whelan, barrister, author, political analyst and columnist with The Irish Times for his role as moderator. Amel Yacef chairperson Akidwa, Caoimhe Butterly activist and student at Kimmage DSC, Theresa O’Keefe Research Associate in the Equality Studies Centre, UCD, Farah Azadi activist and PhD candidate in the Department of Near and Middle East Studies and Caoimhe Kerins activist challenging state racism and fighting for education rights for their participation in ‘ Gender Based Violence and The State: What Are The Lessons From Global Struggles?’ Thanks also to Susan McKay writer and journalist for her role as moderator. Google, Salesforce and LinkedIn for the free provision of IT related services.

Our #FirstWeds Debates set out to connect the global with the local.

Partnerships. We would like to salute our partners in the TTIP Information Network with whom we have collaborated most effectively over the last year. The Peoples Movement, ATTAC Ireland, An Taisce, Centre for Global Education, Ceartas - Irish Lawyers for Human Right, Comhlámh Trade Justice Group, Debt and Development Coalition Ireland, Environmental Pillar, Euro-Toques, Fracking Free Ireland, No Fracking Dublin, Presentation Justice Network, Trade Union Left Forum, We’re Not Leaving, Young Friends of the Earth, Trócaire We would also like to acknowledge our partners in the Clean Clothes Ireland Campaign with whom we collaborated on the Rana Plaza issue. Re-Dress, Mandate and the Global Solidarity project of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. We would like to thank our partners in the DEEEP project with whom we are looking forward to new resource materials to support the continued engagement of returned volunteers on global justice issues. APS (Spain), Deineta (Lithuania), GVC (Italy), INEX (Czech Republic), Volunteurope (Europe-wide/ UK) and Zavod Volontariat (Slovenia) and to Charo Lanao-Madden for her wonderful facilitation of a workshop with our partners.

How inclusive is your organisation? Nerijus Jankauskas, Blanka Rihter, Jara Henar and Gráinne O’Neill devise forum theatre piece during a workshop on the DEEEP manual.


Thanks A special thank you to all those who have worked with us as course facilitators over the year in providing pre-departure and post assignment training and debriefing and expert facilitation inputs on the courses and workshops including: Skills in Development Education, Trade Justice, Be the Change, Coming Home weekends and the What Next courses: Therese O’Driscoll, Conall O’Caoimh, Michael O’Brien, Fiona Dunne, Barry Finnegan, Sally Sawaya, Marie-Therese Fanning, Janet Horner, Frank Naughton, Lizzie Downes, Nina Sachau, Morina O Neill, Alan Hayes, Ruth Powell, Shane O Connor, Carmel Mulrine, Gemma Baker, Selina Quinn, Maryrose Costello, Mary Hanlon, Deirdre Kelly, Deirdre Quinlan, Geraldine Quinlan, Orla Quinn, Ellen Donnelly, Claire Glavey, Grace Walsh, Jessica Carson and Nora Furlong (Creativity and Change), Mark Malone, Patty Abozaglo, Ana Maria Barbu, Ellen Regan, Helen Lowry, Saleh Rifaie, Sarah Marshall, Sean O’Connell and Tony Leddy Thanks also to Partners – Training for Transformation for their expert facilitation for a staff review day. Thanks to those who have taken out advertising space in Focus, without which Focus could not be printed and distributed: Kimmage Development Studies Centre and the School of Law and Government in Dublin City University.

Gemma Baker, Shane O’Connor, Grainne O’Neill and Therese O’Driscoll pictured on day devoted to debriefing in September.


UCD VO volunteers huddle over some ideas during the Be The Change evening course in UCD.


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Annual Report 2015  

The Comhlamh annual report for 2014

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