LIMERICK is on track to become the country’s first city and county to acknowledge the contribution of its volunteers by endorsing and backing a special volunteers’ discount card.
The last hurdle in getting the scheme up and running has now been passed, following the unanimous decision of Limerick City and County councillors to back the card. The other key backers are the Limerick Leader and Limerick Live 95FM.
The discount card, to be called the Limerick Privilege card, is the brainchild of the Limerick Volunteer Centre and ran on a six-month pilot basis last year.
During that period, councillors were told, 85 businesses came on board and offered discounts and some 100 organisations and up to 7000 volunteers benefitted from using the card.
The new scheme, with its high-profile backers, is expected to run initially for three years, allowing the scheme to gain traction and to deliver a boost to the businesses involved.
But, says Paul Moriarty of the Limerick Volunteer Centre, they hope to increase the number of businesses accepting the Limerick Privilege card. They also hope that all of the 400 plus voluntary organisations registered with the centre will sign up.
An online directory of participating businesses will be available and businesses will be issued with point of sale stickers. Card-holders will also get a booklet of businesses with their card. It is up to each business to decide what discount they will apply, Mr Moriarty said but added: “85% of the businesses who have already signed up for the scheme are offering discounts of 10%. That is a significant discount.”
“I am delighted at the unanimous decision of the councillors to support the scheme. “ Mr Moriarty added. “This is the first time that a civic exercise like this is taking place, that a local authority is teaming up with a local volunteer centre and the local media to recognise and award the citizens in its jurisdiction. I think it’s brilliant. I am thrilled.”
Councillors at last week’s meeting were equally enthusiastic about the scheme, which was proposed by Cllr Francis Foley as chairman of the Community, Leisure and Emergency Services SPC. The SPC had unanimously endorsed the scheme, he was happy to report and he urged councillors to do the same.
“It is a fantastic scheme to give something back to volunteers. They are the backbone of our communities,” Fianna Fail leader, Cllr Michael Collins said.
It is a reward for volunteerism, Fine Gael’s Cllr Michael Sheahan said while Cllr Eddie Ryan said it was one of the best ideas to come before the council. Voluntary organisations and businesses can register for the Limerick Privilege card by going online to www.volunteerlimerick.ie or by ringing the Limerick Volunteer Service on 087-7387481. The card will be officially launched next month.