Comhlámh’s Ruth Powell reflects on her recent trip to Cork, to attend the INMO’s Annual Delegate Conference.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) became a supporter of Comhlámh in 2017, which means that it encourages all its members, who are thinking about volunteering overseas, to travel with a Comhlámh Code of Good Practice signatory organisation. The relationship between the INMO and Comhlámh has been blossoming since then, and last week we were able to attend the Annual Delegate Conference in Cork, where we were able to chat directly with the nurses and midwives who were attending the conference.
Nurses and midwives are superb! The women (it was mostly women) attending the conference were friendly, funny, fantastic listeners and incredibly, almost intrinsically warm. I hate to use the word “networking” because the idea that human interaction has to have a result, which can be commodified, is slightly unnerving, but it was such an excellent opportunity to chat to so many interesting people. And yes, network!
Most of the nurses and midwives I spoke to were already involved in volunteering; either they were volunteering here in Ireland, or had volunteered overseas when they were younger, or were thinking about volunteering overseas when they retired. It seemed to me to be in the organisational culture of nursing and midwifery to be altruistic and have a desire to want to “volunteer”.
The information I gave these interesting women was such: Comhlámh recommends that people only volunteer with an organisation that has signed up to our code of good practice for volunteer sending agencies. This ensures the practice is responsible and responsive, with focus on the partnership between the sending and hosting organisations. The volunteer should be protected in terms of having solid pre-departure training and debriefing when they come home, and for health workers, Irish Aid will cover their Public Service Pension Scheme if they are on an agreed career break. Comhlámh will administer this on their behalf.
Some nurses and midwives told me that they didn’t feel that they could travel right now, due to family commitments or other personal reasons, and to these women I spoke about Comhlámh’s membership groups and other events and activities. We currently have six vibrant and active groups, which are always welcoming of new members, we have monthly debates, training courses, workshops and in June, our annual Coming Home Weekend for returned volunteer development workers. We are always looking for people to write short blogs about their experiences overseas too, and three nurses promised me short pieces by the end of the summer. I’m very much looking forward to reading those articles.
Comhlámh is delighted to have this relationship with the INMO, and we were very happy to have a stand at the Annual Delegate Conference this year in Cork. If you missed the conference, but you would like information about volunteering overseas within the health sector, get in touch with us today and we can make an appointment for you to come in for one of our face-to-face information sessions.
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