When single mum Stephanie Preshur, 31, applied for a job as volunteer co-ordinator, she had no idea it was part of an innovative internship programme. But through her involvement in the Time to Shine programme, Stephanie learnt new skills, stepped out of her comfort zone, and made a real and positive impact on her community.
Time to Shine is run by the Rank Foundation using money raised by National Lottery players. Voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations can apply to host a Time to Shine intern, funded by the Rank Foundation for a whole year. During that year, the Time to Shine intern will work on a particular project within the organisation.
We chatted to Stephanie about the road that led her to her internship with Nexus NI, an incredible Northern Irish charity that helps change lives affected by sexual violence by offering counselling, education and training.
“I actually wasn’t aware of the internship until I applied for the job at Nexus,” explained Stephanie. “I had finished my counselling degree in June and since then was working as a cleaner in a care home when I saw Nexus NI was looking for a volunteer coordinator.
“I applied thinking it was a perfect way to combine my hospitality management and counselling experience; and move forward with my career. It was at my interview with Nexus that first heard about Time to Shine and what a great opportunity it could be.”
As a single mum, Stephanie needed to make sure any new role would offer her the stability she and her family needed. But thanks to National Lottery players, all Time to Shine interns are paid a full time, living wage for the 12 months of their internship. For Stephanie, that stability is just one of the benefits of being a Time to Shine intern. She’s also learnt new skills and invested in her future with different training and work experience.
“Time to Shine gave me security for a year and a role which allowed me to use my skills. And it got me out of a job I hated!” said Stephanie. “My role as volunteer coordinator has been really varied and given me plenty of chance to step out of my comfort zone. For example, I’ve been able to take specialist training from Nexus themselves, and earned an accredited qualification in volunteer management.
“I was also given the responsibility and support to run my own project. As part of this, I’ve recruited and managed volunteers and developed new roles and opportunities not just for both the volunteers and for Nexus as an organisation.
“My colleagues at Nexus have really supported my development, and I’ve been lucky to work with other project leads in the organisation. I’ve also been able to get experience representing Nexus at awareness and fundraising events throughout Northern Ireland.”
Time to Shine is an opportunity for people of all ages and from all walks of life. An intern might be someone who wants to change careers, someone who’s been out of the workforce for a while, or someone who has never been employed before.
“Up until the internship, I worked in many different roles, lived in many different areas and went through several personal transformations,” said Stephanie.
“I’ve been able to bring those experiences with me into the Time to Shine internship. My personal experiences mean I’m approachable, I don’t have preconceived ideas of people. Working at Nexus, I’m able to see the potential in people and hopefully help them change their lives.
“I think this is why the Time to Shine internships really resonated with me – I have faith in people, just like Time to Shine had faith in me.”
But Time to Shine isn’t just an opportunity for the interns themselves. The VCSE organisations who host a Time to Shine intern also gain a huge amount.
Helena Bracken, Stephanie’s line manager at Nexus, said: “Stephanie has been a fantastic addition to the Nexus team. As volunteer co-ordinator she has recruited a variety of talented volunteers to help us with non-clinical work like fundraising, research and administration.
“It’s a great opportunity for both Stephanie and for Nexus as an organisation. She gets the experience of working with a fast- growing, fast-paced third sector organisation. And we get to cultivate volunteers, which is crucial for our organisation’s continued development and sustainability.
“I would encourage all charities to apply for Time to Shine. Stephanie has been worth her weight in gold to us!”
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