Applications are now open for Time to Shine, an internship programme that gives people from all walks of life the chance to work with voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations making a real difference to their local communities. This year, the Rank Foundation is using money raised by National Lottery players to fund four internships across Northern Ireland.
Since 2010, 120 charities and 225 interns have taken part in the programme. We chatted to Laura Cloughley, 25, who interned for Oasis Youth, part of the Community Intercultural Programme (CIP), back in 2017.
Laura had been a volunteer with Oasis since its foundation in 2010. Thanks to Time to Shine, she was able to get the experience she needed to make that jump into paid work in the community sector, and since her internship finished she’s taken on a full time, paid position at Oasis.
Laura said: “I heard about Time to Shine through Andrew McCreery, the Youth Co-Ordinator at Oasis. Andrew knew I had been looking to start my career in the community sector, so when he discovered the Time to Shine internship he thought it would be a great opportunity for not only myself personally, but also Oasis.”
Andrew could see the potential in Laura from early on in her involvement with the group. “I can remember the first conversation we had with her about the potential for her to become part of the CIP on the internship,” he said. “We could see hope rising within her that this was her chance to be employed with an organisation she loved and had devoted so much time to over the years.”
During her internship, Laura brought her own personal experiences to her work.
“Oasis wanted to spend more time developing their volunteers and recognising their achievements,” she explained. “As I had been volunteering from the beginning, they thought I would be best suited to working on this.”
But it wasn’t just her experience as a volunteer that Laura brought with her to her Time to Shine internship.
“From a young age I have struggled with anxiety and more recently depression and I always thought these issues would have been more of a hindrance than a help in any of the employment opportunities I’ve had,” said Laura.
“I’ve been able to use my experiences and my own research to deliver mental health workshops to young people; spotting the signs and symptoms, importance of self-care, what different mental illnesses are. Young people are more open around me in terms of their own mental health and I feel very privileged to be in that position.”
For both Laura and Andrew, what really sets Time to Shine apart is the support that participating organisations get from the Rank Foundation.
“The Rank Foundation staff are invested in you and your intern right from the beginning,” said Laura. “Unlike other internships I’ve completed before, the Rank Foundation are in constant communication with you; support is always readily available.”
Andrew agrees: “The unique thing about Time to Shine was support that they offered. They workshops and seminars they ran were exceptionally high quality. They gave us the opportunity to spend a few days networking with other organisations from across the UK, and we’re still using those important links and contacts.”
Thanks to the Time to Shine internship, Laura’s confidence has sky-rocketed. “I’ve always struggled with believing in myself and Time to Shine helped me to reflect on my own practices and realise that, in the least arrogant way possible, I am good at what I do and I am good at my job!”
But as well as personal gains for Laura, Oasis and the CIP have benefitted massively from taking part in Time to Shine.
Andrew said: “By taking part in Time to Shine, we increased our number of volunteers and improved our services. Our volunteers also had the opportunity to develop personally – we’ve seen some of our district’s most marginalised people develop their confidence and flourish into leaders and activists who are championing the rights of their own communities.
“Through Time to Shine our organisation has taken a step forward. We can move into the future with confidence about our long term sustainability.”
And what would Laura’s advice be to groups thinking of applying to Time to Shine?
“I would say without a doubt to go for it!” said Laura. “You have nothing to lose by applying for a Time to Shine intern it would greatly benefit not only your own organisation but staff within your organisation too.”
Thanks to National Lottery players, the Rank Foundation is able to support more VCSE organisations to host their own intern. If you think your organisation would benefit from taking part in Time to Shine, email Helen Stockdale at the Rank Foundation for an application form: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or, if you’d like more information on Time to Shine and the application process, check out our blog post: https://bigblognorthernireland.org.uk/2018/09/28/time-to-shine/
Applications close on 26th October 2018