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Time to Shine – Craig’s Story

October 23, 2018

Craig Fisher understands better than most the impact that hearing loss can have on a person’s life. He struggled with his hearing loss for a long time before getting the support he so badly needed from Hearing Link, an amazing charity that supports people with hearing loss across Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

In 2018, Hearing Link was successful in their application to Time to Shine, an internship programme run by the Rank Foundation that uses money raised by National Lottery players to support people into third-sector work. Craig was chosen as Hearing Link ’s intern, helping him out of unemployment and giving him the chance to get even more involved with a charity he loves.

We chatted to Craig about what it’s meant to him to be involved in Time to Shine, and how his personal experiences have influenced his internship.

“I was introduced to Hearing Link several years ago,” said Craig. “Because of my hearing loss, I withdrew from the world almost completely for quite some time and my self-confidence and self-esteem were as low as could be. But through Hearing Link, I’ve been able to start rebuilding my life.

“I started volunteering with Hearing Link a few years ago after being a participant in their programmes. I was so pleased to be able to give back to a charity that had helped me so much.”

Craig first heard about Time to Shine through a colleague and immediately saw an opportunity not just for himself but also for Hearing Link as an organisation.

“The team is quite small compared to the scope of the job it is trying to do,” Craig explained. “One more staff member could really help make a difference.

“On a personal level, I had been unemployed for some time as a direct result of my struggles with my hearing. This way, I could get useful and relevant experience in an organisation that really understood my needs.”

To be eligible for a Time to Shine intern, the host organisation has to have a specific project or area of work that they want their intern to work on during their year. For Craig, that was work was focussed on Hearing Link’s online presence and website.

“Because of how isolating hearing loss can be, our website might be the first point of contact a person has with us. A friendly, informative and reassuring website is key to letting people know that help is out there. For the last year I’ve been working to update the site and make it more accessible.

“I’ve also been investigating new technology around hearing loss. I delivered workshops on Next Generation Text Service, which supports people who can’t hear well on the phone to make phone calls by using a relay operator who types up the conversations.”

As a result of taking part in Time to Shine, Craig’s confidence has soared. It’s shown him that he can make a real difference to the world, and has even led to a job offer from the larger organisation of which Hearing Link is a part.

“Because of my personal experiences with hearing loss, I’ve been able offer my perspective to guide the activities of the charity.

“It’s meant a great deal to me to be able to help others who are so like me and experiencing many of the same struggles. I can help them see that there is light at the end of the tunnel. The internship has helped me be a role model to others as people can see that I am living, working, travelling and engaging with the world even with severe hearing loss.”

Thanks to National Lottery players, Time to Shine gives people of all ages and from all walks of life the opportunity to get valuable experience. An intern might be someone like Craig who has been unemployed for a while, someone who wants to change careers, or someone who has never been employed before.

Applications close on Friday 26th October for VCSE organisations to be in with a chance of hosting their own Time to Shine intern. The funding is for a full time, living wage internship for 12 months, during which you’ll receive support on learning, networking, mentoring and coaching from the Rank Foundation.

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:


Or, if you’d like more information on Time to Shine and the application process, check out our blog post:

Time To Shine – Could internship be for you?

October 22, 2018

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:

Or, if you’d like more information on Time to Shine and the application process, check out our blog post:

Applications close on 26th October 2018

Time to Shine – an Intern’s Insight

October 19, 2018

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:


Or, if you’d like more information on Time to Shine and the application process, check out our blog post:


Applications close on 26th October 2018

Newtownabbey Senior Citizens Forum

October 16, 2018

When Derrick Park’s wife died suddenly in 2015, his life came to a startling halt. Like many older people who’ve lost a loved one, the 80 year old veteran spent most days by himself, following the same old routine. Now thanks to National Lottery players, Newtownabbey Senior Citizens Forum has helped Derrick find a new purpose in life and new friends to share it with.

“I come from Darlington originally and moved to Northern Ireland in 1956,” said Derrick. “A year after I moved to Northern Ireland I met a girl, Margaret, and we got married three years later in 1960. We had four children, eight grandchildren and 54 wonderful years of marriage together until 18 February 2015.

“Margaret had a brain haemorrhage and died. It was a shock – I didn’t know what to do with myself.

“All I did was go out in the car every day, just like a zombie, like Groundhog Day – going for a run in the car, coming home, reading the paper, then going to bed.”

Derrick’s daughters were worried about him and decided to research some local clubs for him to get involved in. His youngest daughter Una came across Newtownabbey Senior Citizens Forum which received almost £250,000 of money raised by National Lottery players last year. The money is being used for the +Five-0 And On The Go project which is reducing social isolation and improving health and wellbeing for people over the age of 50 in the Newtownabbey and Antrim area.

Although Derrick needed an initial push to walk through the doors, since then he hasn’t looked back.

Derrick’s found his spark again

“Coming to this club is companionship for a start – I was accepted straight away and then naturally you make friends. I’ve only missed two Tuesdays in the last two years. Great bunch of lads, good conversationalists, good laughter.

“We go on little trips together, somebody organises an activity or brings in a person to give us a talk. It’s interesting, it keeps your brain active, and I would miss it if it was not here.

“I come to an art class on a Monday as well, which I’m not very good at, but I enjoy the craic. The lads do a spot of singing when we’re painting, and we have a good laugh about that, plus you get a free cup of tea!

“I like my trips away too. We were in the Punjana tea factory a while ago, we’ve been to museums, and I’ve been on day trips to Portrush, Ballycastle and Rathlin Island.”

Thanks to National Lottery players, Newtownabbey Senior Citizens Forum are making a real difference to the lives of older people. They’re able to take up new hobbies, make new friends, and find a new lease of life. For Derrick, being part of the club has given him back his spark.

Art classes, trips out, and even a free cup of tea are all on offer

“I really look forward to getting up, getting out and coming here. The main thing is its company and once you’ve got company you can tell your ails to somebody else and they might put you on the right track. I feel very lucky.

“My daughters say they have noticed the difference in me too. They were worried about me, I think, but now my children have to make an appointment to see me and they say my life is far better than theirs.”

To find out more about the Newtownabbey Senior Citizens Forum, including news about upcoming events, check out their website:


Orchardville Society

October 8, 2018

Thanks to National Lottery players, young people with learning disabilities can access support to prepare for their move from school to the next phase of education, training or employment.

The Connect project, run by the Orchardville Society, is funded through Big Lottery Fund’s Empowering Young People programme. It offer personalised training, work placements, and support and encourage independence, confidence and employability for young people with learning disabilities in the Greater Belfast area.

Beth McKinty, now 21, first got involved with the Orchardville Society back in 2014. Thanks to their fantastic work together, Beth has learnt new skills and boosted her confidence and self-esteem. She’s even succeeded in going on several work placements – giving her the valuable experience she needs to transition into adult life.

Beth’s mum, Sian, said: “Beth has two older sisters, so they’re her role models. My husband, Hugh, and I wanted to give Beth as much freedom in making her own choices about her future as we did with the other two. Although she has a learning disability Beth’s very sociable and very aware of what she wants to do and she’s also watching her two older sisters.

“That’s daunting because you know she needs to be protected, you know that she’ll not take the same route and you’ve got all of those emotions flying about – in a perfect world you’d like them all to follow the same pathway in their own way. We know that isn’t going to happen with Beth.”

A dedicated transition officer has worked with Beth and her family during the past two years. Sian said: “As parents you’re worried because you don’t know what the future holds. Beth will always need support, but we want her to have a real sense of her own achievements. Orchardville were able to give us advice and say, ‘these are your options’.

“The transition programme has been helping Beth with training courses and getting her into work placements, and it has also been stretching us as parents. It has helped us start planning for Beth to take public transport, maybe stay in the house for an hour on her own, things like that. The transition programme helps us look ahead and plan.

“What they have done to me as a mummy has been amazing because it’s opened my eyes as to what is out there for Beth.”

The Orchardville Society received £600,000 in 2016 to continue their brilliant work, and thanks to National Lottery players they’re able to continue helping young people like Beth make the move from school to adulthood.

Margaret Haddock, Chief Executive of the Orchardville Society, discussed what impact the funding has. She said: “This funding will change not only the lives of the young people but also the family network around them. We are excited to be able to work with young people to provide a service which will allow them to make informed choices on the direction for “life after school”. We cannot wait to work in partnership with the young people and assist them achieve their goals.”