Make a difference in Mid Ulster - Volunteer

Cookstown Scouts at the 2011 World Jamboree in Sweden

Cookstown Scouts at the 2011 World Jamboree in Sweden

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As we move into February and some of us resign ourselves to the fact that we may never complete those New Years resolutions, the Mail has a solution that could also answer the annual question of ‘what are you going off for Lent?’

An organisation called Volunteer Now, which operates in Cookstown, Magherafelt and Dungannon, works with groups and charities in Mid Ulster to match volunteers with available opportunities.

Working to promote, develop and support volunteering in Northern Ireland, their recognition programme also allows volunteers between the ages of 18-24 to gain new skills and training - which could just lead to other opportunities.

“It is one of the best ways to make a CV stand out and can be the difference between an interview and a new job,” said Volunteer Now’s youth outreach officer Scott Cooper.

“You gain new skills and training, great experience and confidence, while giving something back to your community and making a difference to others. We believe there is the right role for everybody, that volunteering should be a two way process and an enjoyable experience.

“As well as our opportunity sheets, we promote volunteer roles and training through our website and social networks.

“We run a programme called Millennium Volunteers, which provides recognition for young people actively dedicating their time to volunteering. This highlights the commitment and contribution they have made and helps turn their voluntary experience into something even more concrete, as we provide certificates endorsed by the Department of Education.”

And, in keeping with the times, the Millenium Volunteer programme even has an app to help link young people with the roles that suit them.

In Cookstown, charities that currently need help include the Ballinderry Rivers Trust, who need Rivers Watchers, the Scouts who are looking to recruit new assistant leaders and Marie Curie Cancer Care who are after a volunteer photographer.

Whilst in Magherafelt Northern Ireland Hospice need a shop assistant, Praxis Care need some new befriending volunteers and Mindwise need someone to volunteer to work on their website.

Magherafelt based Killian Starrs who volunteers with a local football team, said of the programme: “I attend a two hour training session each week and help provide cover for first aid duties at events, football matches and rallies.

“You get a lot back from volunteering and don’t have to give up a lot of your time. My advice would be to choose something that you will enjoy.”