World NGO Day: A reflection on IMS’ community service journey

– Written by Wellness Officer, Danna-Marie Blackwell & Project Manager, Pat Madigan –

World NGO day celebrates the work of non-governmental and non-profit making organisations all over the world and the 50+ million individuals who openly and willingly give their skills, personal assets, and time to support and ensure the success of the organisations for the public good.

[icon name=”quote-left” prefix=”fas”] Ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being at all ages [icon name=”quote-right” prefix=”fas”]

The above is the 3rd UN Sustainability Goal and an essential part of IMS’ core principles of People-First and Compassion.

Within IMS, we support employee altruism through our CSR policy granting 1 volunteering day to every employee, flexible work-from-anywhere policy, and agile working hours engagement.

The act of supporting NGOs, be it community, sporting, or humanitarian organisations is encouraged in IMS because we recognise the positive impact it has initially on the individual, then the wider IMS team, the greater community of our clients, and our clients’ customers.

Research has shown that when we contribute to society from a place of altruism, it pays twice.  Firstly, by serving the community, both locally and internationally, bridging gaps not currently being met by industry and service, in usually much over-extended and undervalued causes. Then secondly, by serving us. The act of voluntary engagement supports cognitive stability and longevity in the individual’s later years; the social connectedness experienced sustains improved mental health and has a positive impact on self-esteem; when we work together in this altruistic way it improves internal communication and engagement within the unit and the act of contributing to society in this way ultimately increases our level of eudaimonic happiness.

Project Manager Pat Madigan shares one of the greatest examples of community service engagement within team IMS, describing his experience of volunteering with the Limerick Treaty Suicide Prevention team.

The volunteer story

Following the death by suicide of a friend in August 2022, I was moved to confront my profound and sudden emotions around their loss. This was someone that challenged me but whom I respected greatly. We had worked side by side in supporting the community, had great fun working together, and shared a genuine passion for what we did.

Part of the journey into understanding these emotions led me to take an active role in supporting Limerick Treaty Suicide Prevention (LTSP). LTSP was nominated as a charity partner for IMS in 2022. The LTSP team patrols the Quays around the banks of the River Shannon in Limerick city (locally known as the 3 bridges) 4 nights a week (Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night) from 8 pm until the early hours.

LTSP is not a member of the Emergency Rescue Services. Our role is merely to offer immediate intervention and a supportive ear to anyone who is in distress, assisting them in finding hope and meaning for long enough that the immediate distress passes, and then continuing to support them whilst waiting for the appropriate professional intervention team to arrive. My experience, thankfully, is that most nights are non-eventful, with people just out and about, exercising, socialising, or sitting and pondering life. On the rare occasions we have intervened in an attempted death by suicide, the intervention has been successful, ensuring that individuals came to no harm.

Since joining LTSP in October 2022, it has had a significant impact on my happiness; for the first time in a very long time, I feel energised and passionate about life again, and being part of this group is fulfilling and rewarding for me personally. While there’s a serious objective of suicide prevention, there is a tangible positive culture within the organisation.

There is also a fun side to the LTSP – we have our own social gatherings marking calendar occasions. For example, lighting of the Christmas Tree down by the riverbank, getting involved in St. Patrick’s Day parade in Limerick city, or fundraising with 24 non-stop sponsored patrols. We ensure that during every patrol there is a hot cup of soup, coffee, tea, and time to chat.

LTSP group celebrates Christmas, with someone dressed as Santa

Being an advocate and the link between IMS and our partner charity makes me proud. I want to continue offering hope and encouraging those who are experiencing distress with a platform to talk, receive help and support. Every time I go out on an LTSP patrol, I listen to stories of hope and healing that are shared amongst the group or on a one-to-one basis. I believe that these stories have the capacity to inspire others and dispel myths and stigma around suicide, depression, low esteem, and mental ill health.

This year, the LTSP is planning around ‘The Great Limerick Run’ and ‘A 3 Peaks 24 Hour Hike Challenge’, for investment back into the organisation and for member training programmes. To support the LTSP, click here.

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