Volunteering can be a great way to enhance your University experience. Providing an opportunity to give back to the community while also developing both personally and professionally. As well as being fun, it can really enhance your CV and employers look very favourably on volunteering because they see that you can develop essential skills that they need e.g. Project management, communication and teamwork skills.
How can UCC help you with volunteering?
UCC has a Volunteering Pathway, as part of the UCC Works Award:
To receive an award through the Volunteering Pathway a student must complete a period of unpaid volunteering in an on or off campus organisation. Students participating in the UCC Works Volunteering Pathway are required to dedicate a minimum of forty hours of their time to the organisation. Upon completing the 40 hours, students are required to complete a reflective report and update their CV. Learn more about UCC Works here.
Campus Engage Student Volunteering Report 2019
Volunteering can provide excellent opportunities for students to round out their higher education with practical experience and opportunities to develop skills such as leadership, teamwork, communication and real-world problem-solving.
There are multiple routes for volunteers to take when volunteering, and for students who wish to volunteer studentvolunteer.ie is the one-stop shop that facilitates thousands of students volunteering each year.
studentvolunteer.ie was developed in 2016 through the Campus Engage network of higher education institutions, and currently has 10 member institutions. This online platform matches third level students’ interests with a range of volunteering opportunities. The portal is the first of its kind globally and aims to enhance student’s awareness of their role and responsibility in solving societal challenges such as homelessness and social exclusion.
There are now more than 1000 organisations and 14,000 students registered on the website, with over 4,000 new student registrations in the 2018-19 academic year. Through this website, students have contributed so much over the last academic year, clocking up a total of 58,202 hours through volunteering opportunities on the website.
Volunteering in Ireland
There are countless ways to volunteer and thousands of organisations across Ireland looking for help. It’s easy to get started – browse volunteering opportunities near you on Student Volunteer.ie or through the national database of volunteering opportunities and listings. Listings can be found with:
Volunteer Ireland is the national volunteer development agency and a support body for all local Volunteer Centres and Volunteering Information Services in Ireland. Their goal is to make sure that everyone who wants to volunteer, can volunteer.
Active Link set up a website for Community Exchange and Active link, in order to provide a professional online communications hub where Community and Voluntary groups, NGOs, Charities and the Non-Profit Sector in Ireland could:
- promote their work / activities / campaigns;
- advertise vacancies and volunteering opportunities
Working overseas gives you the chance to demonstrate skills like adaptability, resilience and independence. Always check with the Department of Foreign Affairs or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for Northern Ireland when going overseas to be sure your destination is considered safe.
You will find specialist organisations set up to provide support, training and information. They act as a one-stop shop for voluntary agencies and maintain a database of current opportunities. They also provide training for volunteers, which can lead to recognised qualifications.
A Better World, Ireland’s new policy for international development, has been formally launched by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney earlier in 2019. A Better World charts a clear way forward to achieve our ambition of a more equal, peaceful and sustainable world, shaping and protecting our stability, our prosperity, our shared interests and our common future. Get involved and make a difference around the world.
Where do I start?
You should have questions: ask for written information about the charity’s programmes, finances and their credentials. Make certain you are comfortable with their fundraising methods and policies on expenditure of funds.
If you wish to develop a skill, look for a charity or volunteer group with a job profile that suits your aims and will incorporate supervision or appraisal sessions to assess your development.
Research the causes that are important to you – look at groups or organisations that work with issues you feel strongly about. Consider the skills you have to offer – many voluntary organisations will try to match your skills and knowledge to their needs. Be aware you may have to attend an interview or fill out an application form. Vetting procedures may be undertaken in the interests of children and ‘at risk’ populations, which the organisation has a legal responsibility to consider.