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The Change Something Fund – Tina’s Story

November 5, 2018

Young people living in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area have just two days left to apply to The Change Something Fund.

A total of £100,000 is available through grants of £200 to £3000 for young people aged 13 -24 living who want to change something in their community. The programme is being managed by the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland’s Acorn Fund and is funded by Big Lottery Fund and Derry and Strabane District Council.

The deadline to apply is 5pm this Wednesday (7th November 2018) and young people will need the support of a host organisation like a community group, a school or a club to apply.

Tina Curtis (17) is a young woman who is making positive changes in her community and in her own life. She has turned the page on her past anti-social behaviour and credits the support of a National Lottery funded youth project that is helping her to make the changes she wants.

After leaving school, Tina started to get involved with anti-social behaviour, and got into trouble with the police. But meeting a youth worker from Off the Streets Community Youth one evening was a real breakthrough – and now she’s turned her life around and is helping to organise activities that are benefitting the whole community.

Following that conversation, she joined Off the Streets Community Youth’s FATE Project (Future Aspirations Transformed Everyday), which is supported with a Big Lottery Fund grant of £600,000. It offers young people in the Greater Shantallow area a safe place where they can meet up and get involved in activities that will help change things for both themselves and their community for the better.

Tina said: “I knew myself that I had to change and I thought I would like to bring something back to the community and work alongside Off the Street to help that.

“I felt nervous at the start, but then I thought it’s going to make a positive change to me and the community, so I felt relieved then.”

Tina got involved in the project’s mentoring programme, and from there she went on to the youth planning committee and do other skills development. The new skills that Tina is learning are improving her confidence, and this is spurring her on to help her community and to create a more positive perception of young people.

Earlier this year, Tina put her learning into action by helping to organise a family fun day event in Greater Shantallow to help bring the community together. It was a great success with more than 300 people turning up.

“It was really down to us. We had Off the Street to help us but we had to plan everything and publicise it. We all had our own individual roles, but we worked as a team, too,” Tina said.

The first family fun day was so popular that they’ve held others since, and each time the young people take on different roles on the day so everyone gets a chance to develop their skills.

Tina has now returned to education and is studying childcare at North West Regional College, something that she didn’t imagine happening last year.

Tina said: “My confidence has definitely been boosted. I wasn’t going to go back to education but they gave me the motivation to help me sign up for tech.”

She has recently started a leadership course, and being involved in the Tools group helps her to find out about training opportunities and other skills that go towards finding employment, such as CV writing.

Tina’s advice to any young person who wants to change is to join a youth group. She said: “If you have support, take it because it’s definitely going to change you.

“Now that I can see myself that I’m changing, other people can see that I’ve changed, too. It makes me feel like a better person.”


For more information and to apply visit: 

 If you have any questions or need support please contact:

Acorn Fund Grants Team on 028 9024 5927

Acorn Fund Officer Shauna Kelpie on 028 7137 1547 or


The Change Something Fund – Xavier’s Story

November 2, 2018

One week left to apply for The Change Something Fund

Young people living in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area have until 7th November 2018 to apply to The Change Something Fund.

A total of £100,000 is available through grants of £200 to £3000 for young people aged 13 -24 living who want to change something in their community. The programme is being managed by the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland’s Acorn Fund and is funded by Big Lottery Fund and Derry and Strabane District Council.

The Change Something Fund is supporting young people like Xavier Beardwood (17) from Derry/Londonderry who want to make a real change to their communities. Xavier is transgender and after struggling to feel accepted at school he is working with OUTNorth West to change things so that members of the LGBTQ+ community will be understood by the wider community.

LGBTQ+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, and Queer and Questioning and the + sign is other identities – such as intersex and non-binary.

Xavier is sharing his experiences to encourage other young people to apply for funding to make a difference in their community.

Xavier said: “I was 12 years old when I first came out. I changed my gender from female to male and changed my name to Xavier. It took me a long time to get the confidence to do that and it was really hard to tell my family but they have been very supportive. I feel I can be myself now, which is definitely less stressful.

“I used to go to an all-girls school but I was always different, I wasn’t girly like the rest of them. Some people assumed I was a lesbian and they made transphobic and homophobic comments to me. I never felt comfortable there, I didn’t even feel like I could talk to the teachers about the way I was feeling.

“I moved to a new school to do my A Levels. They were really welcoming and understanding, they call me by my new name and let me wear trousers – it’s been a brilliant change for me.”

Xavier found support outside of school through the Rainbow Health project. He joined their youth group four years ago and he’s now on the management committee for their OUT North West project. Last year the project received almost £500,000 of money raised by National Lottery players from Big Lottery Fund.


“It’s been great being part of Rainbow Health project where everyone accepts me for who I am and they understand the difficulties I’ve gone through. In OUTNorth West I’m working with other young people to change people’s attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people, particularly in education, community and healthcare services where many of us have had bad experiences.

“I think it is important to change attitudes and make schools, colleges, GP surgeries and other places more inclusive and supportive towards LGBT people. This can be done by simply giving the correct advice. There is a lot of information available online, but people can get a lot of misconceptions from online resources – especially social media.

“I want to use my own experiences to help create an informative resource that will provide answers for the more difficult questions people may ask, such as questions about surgery or the legalities of changing your name and your gender, as well as bring attention to the lesser known identities within the LGBTQ+ community (such as intersexual, pansexual, asexual and aromantic).

“We have the information we need and we are now deciding what format it will be in. I’m really excited to see the end product.

“I would tell other young people that you don’t have to ‘put up with’ anything that bothers you – you deserve better and have the power to change something.”

Young people interested in applying for funding will need the support of a host organisation like a community group, a school or a club.

Panels of young people living in the local area will then decide which projects are successful.


For more information and to apply visit  

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