THE viability of Bandon Tidy Towns group ‘hangs in the balance’ unless younger volunteers are prepared roll up their sleeves and get involved.
That’s according to long-standing member and Bandon resident Jonathon Kelly who said, despite all the great work they’ve achieved, including the Skate and River Parks, their future doesn’t look bright unless younger residents came on board.
‘All our members are retired. with the exception of one or two volunteers. I’m in my mid 40s and I’m one of the youngest. The future for volunteerism is not bright, particularly for Tidy Towns,’ said Jonathan, who has been involved in the group for around seven years.
‘We have around 18 core members, but on any given Tuesday when we meet we’d be lucky to have seven or eight people turn out. I see being involved as a great opportunity to give something back,’ he said.
He added: ‘Everyone appreciates the work we do, but no one wants to get their hands dirty.’
Describing the group as ‘all inclusive’, he said it wasn’t a case of having a ‘roll call’ every Tuesday and said that people didn’t have to attend religiously, but that a ‘few hours every few weeks’ was what was needed.
‘I drove through Clonakilty one Tuesday and saw around 50 to 60 people of all ages on the bypass,’ said Jonathan.
Spokesman for Skibbereen’s Tidy Town’s Francis Hunt said their youngest volunteer was in their late fifties and said new volunteers were always welcome: ‘It would be the same scenario as Bandon. We’ve had help from local TY students and St Patrick’s Boys NS but would appeal to different groups to help out when they can in keeping their own areas clean.’
Co chair of Clonakilty’s award-winning Tidy Towns group, Catherine O’Connor, explained their success in attracting volunteers of all ages: ‘We attracted new members recently in their 30s and 40s through the triathlon, GAA and rugby clubs. Our junior litter patrol also sees 5th and 6th class students help in July and August, while Foroige members give us one week as well during the summer. It’s about building awareness from a young age.’