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Shared learning at Comhlámh’s Peer Support Meeting

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Shannette Budhai, Comhlámh’s Volunteering Quality Project Officer, speaks about the recent Peer Support meeting that took place in Dublin.

The Peer Support Meeting held last week on 14 May brought together forty-five people in the international development sector in one room. Individuals came from wide-ranging backgrounds and included representatives from academic institutions, volunteer sending agencies, volunteer hosting agencies, members of the diaspora population living in Ireland and disability groups. Attendees were given an opportunity to talk and network with one another.

The meeting was used as a space to host conversations around the direction of the Code of Good Practice, to hear the perspectives of a visually impaired volunteer’s experience of partaking in a development education initiative in The Gambia, to hear the voices of volunteer hosting partners from Kenya and the special projects on which they work, and finally, to hear the perspective of individuals mainly from the African diaspora talk about their views on how the diaspora contributes to and engages with development.

It was great to see the attendees immerse themselves in deep conversation which found people grappling with ideas, issues and a range of complexities related to specific topics that were being discussed. There certainly seems to be an interest in further exploring the role of disabled individuals availing of international volunteer experiences and of volunteer sending agencies ensuring that their recruitment practices are as inclusive as possible. Furthermore, the role of the diaspora generated a lot of interest and the discussion was rich with thought-provoking input.

It can certainly be challenging to organise meetings that are relevant to large numbers of people who work in organisations of different sizes, strengths and in different countries; however, it is well worth the effort and as the ‘Keeper of the Code’ I’m delighted to see organisations actively share their knowledge and experience with one another and I genuinely feel that everyone got something valuable out of the day. Thank you to everyone that came along to the May Peer Support Meeting!


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