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How to boost your CV and your happiness with charity and development work

Daniella Timperley, a second year Broadcast production student from Randalstown is an International Development intern with the charity Think Pacific. Here are her tops tips on getting into charity and development work as a student…

For some people, getting into charity work happens naturally and other people want to help but don’t know where to start. I’ll help you with that. As a volunteer for over seven years, I have encountered many ways that people can get involved in their communities and abroad. Here’s some steps you can follow to get started:

  1. Do a Google search

This may sound really simple and something you do on a daily basis, but it is as simple as having a look at what is available in your local community. Finding out what is accessible for you is important because in order to stay committed and connected to a voluntary project, it is best that it is easy to get to. Searching what is out there is great for inspiration on what you could possibly be a part of.

2. Find your passion 

Once you have done a Google search, see what those charities do and what causes/social issues they tackle. Is there any that resonate with you? If not, don’t worry you can research into the charities and pick one that you like the sound of. Shooting the charities an email and having that personal connection to a charity sometimes helps make that decision a little easier. 

            If you already have a cause that you are passionate about but there isn’t an organisation in your area that focuses on that, then why not start up your own foundation? I’m sure you’ve heard of the quote “be the change you want to see in the world” from Ghandi. Why not be that person to bring that service to your community? Make sure to define what way this charity will benefit the public and who you are targeting. 

3. How can you help?

After choosing a charity or cause that you feel passionate about contributing to, it’s best to start thinking about how you can be of help. You could have a skill that would be useful to a charity, such as cooking, that would be helpful in a homeless shelter to feed those in poverty, for example, or photography and writing skills that would help a charity create more of an online presence to bring in more donations and community engagement. 

If you feel money would benefit the cause of your choice more than your time, you could be a fundraiser for the charity. You could organise events that can be anything as small as a coffee morning or as extreme as an abseil or skydive. If it is a charity like a refuge, you could use the money you raise to buy supplies such as toys for kids or care package items to bring joy to the residents. You can even run a drive where your community could buy items and donate them to make an even greater impact.

Volunteering virtually

I have been making a difference abroad from the comfort of my own home through the virtual internship programme with Think Pacific. I have partnered with a Fijian organisation to create an awareness campaign for violence against women as an International Development intern. I create infographics for their social media and meeting handouts to provide key information on domestic violence. I get so much from the internship including:

  • Creating work that tackles real problems
  • Increasing my IQ and learn about Fiji’s fascinating culture 
  • Personal mentoring 
  • Endorsement for my work via LinkedIn, job references and a completion certificate 

I hope you now feel inspired to make a difference in your community or abroad. The rewarding feeling you get from helping others cannot be beaten. So, find your purpose and change the world!

Interested in volunteering at Queen’s? Contact Volunteer SU.

Did you know? Volunteering for at least 12 hours counts as one of the two extra-curricular activities needed to self-nominate for Degree Plus through the Combined Experience route. 

The deadline is 1 April.

Check eligibility and apply

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How to Volunteer at Uni – and Make it Count!

Thought about volunteering but don’t know where to start? Órla Mallon from our MEDIA programme has collated this handy guide. Read on and prepare to feel good.

Órla Mallon is a third year student studying Liberal Arts, with a main pathway in English Studies. She is participating in this year’s MEDIA programme, and hopes to go into a career in the media industry.

Volunteering is a fantastic way to make a difference during your time at University – and Queen’s has an opportunity for everyone. You can develop a range of skills, communication, organisation, problem solving, adaptability and much more. The invaluable skills you can gain will look great on your CV and will show potential employers that you can take initiative and work hard for something you’re passionate about. Being a volunteer also gives you a chance to give back to your local community and make new friends! 

Here are seven different volunteering opportunities available – but remember the list doesn’t end here. Check out the QUB Volunteer page, or Volunteer SU website for more options. 

Raise Funds for Charity

Charities such as Nexus NIGuide Dogs for the Blindand Action on Hearing Loss (and many more) are always in need of local fundraisers. Not only could you be helping raise funds for charity, but you can demonstrate your organisational and communication skills.  Or, if you know any other worthy causes, don’t be afraid to get involved to raise some cash!

Volunteer with the Elderly


Sometimes older people need a hand sometimes – and it is so easy to be there for a chat. If you consider yourself a good communicator, or you want an opportunity to develop those skills, there are many roles available with Parkinson’s UK or Age UK, or, become a helpline operator onHourglass NI. You could also lend your hand to those suffering with Dementia or Alzheimer’s through The Alzheimer’s Society

Be part of Local Conservation Efforts

If you have a passion for environmental issues, and especially if you want a career within the environment sector, this is a perfect opportunity! Belfast City Council often runs conservation programmes, as well as opportunities with the National Trust.

Help in a local Charity Shop

There is a charity shop on almost every street in Belfast – and they are often looking for volunteers! OxfamCancer Research UKBritish Red Cross and Marie Curie are just to name a few. Check with your local charity shop to find opportunities and develop your interpersonal and communication skills while you’re at it. 

Join the Fight to End Homelessness

Volunteering with Simon Community NI might just be one of the best things you ever do. They are Northern Ireland’s leading charity in the bid to end homelessness and aim to provide a roof over everybody’s head. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, they have issued an urgent appeal for emergency staff, demonstrate your ability to take initiative and volunteer now!

Promote positive Mental Health and Wellbeing

Northern Ireland charity Mindwise aims to support people living with severe mental illness, through a wide range of methods, including providing housing, navigating the criminal justice system, supporting vulnerable people, and creating resource centres for people to socialise. Many of their volunteer opportunities involve facilitating or teaching a class – so if you have an interest in music, photography or gardening, this would be perfect for you! Mindwise also provide Safeguarding Adults training, and First Aid training, skills that are valued in any workplace. 

Homework Clubs!

This is just a short list of all the potential ways you could make a difference while you’re at Uni, so keep looking for opportunities to create positive change! 

Volunteering can count towards your Degree Plus award. To find out how, visit the Degree Plus site.