14 September 2017

Author and DJ Nikki Hayes has launched the search for Ireland’s top young volunteers as the Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards opens for applications for the 2018 programme,

The only youth initiative of its kind, the awards launched with a panel discussion at Pramerica’s head offices in Letterkenny focusing on the role volunteerism plays in some of today’s biggest societal challenges including homelessness and mental health. Panellists included past and present honourees as well as representatives from each of the key charity areas.

Overseeing the event Nikki Hayes spoke first hand of the impact volunteering has had on her life and the importance of encouraging and educating young people about the benefits of volunteering in the local community. “As someone who has experienced mental health issues throughout my life I am well aware of the devastating effect it can have on the people around you. It has also been well documented that Irish young people have higher rates of mental health difficulties than their peers in Europe and the USA. What is special about this awards programme is that it recognises the young volunteers helping their peers in their own community to overcome their problems and face the future together.”

The Awards which run in partnership with the National Association of Principals & Deputy Principals (NAPD) and the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI) are open for online submissions until 20th October 2017. Principals then have until 10th November to nominate up to two students from their school for national-level recognition, from which 20 finalists will be selected to go forward to national judging. Two overall winners will then be announced at a gala awards ceremony in March 2018, were the All-Ireland Youth Volunteers of the Year will be awarded €1,000 each for their chosen charity and a trip to Washington, D.C. for the annual international Prudential Spirit of Community Awards celebration. The 20 finalists will all be awarded €500 for their charities at the ceremony.

Commenting on the programme,Ciaran Harvey Managing Director and CIO, Pramerica, said, “At Pramerica we believe in supporting young people in our society and over the past 12 years we have honoured over 2000 volunteers from 300 schools across the island of Ireland. As we open the 2018 Awards we would encourage all school principals to shine a light on their pupils’ volunteering activities and we are very much looking forward to hearing the inspirational stories from today’s young leaders who are committed to making a difference in their local communities,”

The programme is also supported by notable organisations including Volunteer Now, Volunteer Ireland, Foróige and Scouting Ireland.

Applications are now open at and for updates on this year’s awards, like the Pramerica Spirit of Community Facebook page, join the conversation on Twitter, or follow us on Instagram.

o Each school principal/deputy principal at this stage will have selected a maximum of two applications to go forward for national judging.

• Announcement of Top 20 finalists: February 2018
• Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards Gala Dinner: March 2018
• Two All-Ireland Youth Volunteers of the Year to travel to Washington, D.C.: May 2017