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charity DegreePlus Handy helpers Homework clubs MEDIA Programme Volunteer SU volunteering

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.

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Alumni Clubs and Societies DegreePlus Graduate success volunteering

Six things you need to know about Degree Plus

Emma Kelly, a student on our MEDIA Programme, on why Degree plus is the secret CV weapon every student needs.

1.Employers recognise its value

Degree Plus is an employability award that you gain alongside graduation that demonstrates your dedication to extracurricular activity at Queens University. It adds an extra boost to your CV and is well renowned among employers as it signals to them that you worked hard to develop the skills that are needed for their workplace. 

2.It can give you an edge in the job market

University students are constantly being told that the job market is fierce and competitive, regardless of what field you are in. Unfortunately, the situation has only worsened during the pandemic. Final year students may be feeling hopeless at the prospect of graduating into our economy; therefore, we are continuously looking for something to give us an edge over our competitors. Degree Plus could be that extra something to boost your CV. 

3.Alumni vouch for it

Queens University Belfast alumni Ciara O’Neill graduated with a BSc in Psychology. In her final year, Ciara looked towards Degree Plus as a way of strengthening her CV and received Degree Plus with her degree. Since graduation she has completed a Master’s in Clinical Psychology, worked as a project worker for a children’s charity and is now a senior psychologist. Ciara’s resume speaks for itself; she has done incredible things since her graduation and she credits Degree Plus for strengthening her applications to her Master’s programmes and subsequent jobs.

Ciara felt receiving Degree Plus demonstrated to her employers that she was well-rounded and was more than her First Class Degree. Her volunteering and societies participation were outside the realms of her degree, this strengthened the view that she went above and beyond just completing a degree at Queen’s.  

4.It provides great examples for interviews

When applying for her positions post-graduation, Ciara drew upon the skills that she developed through her experiences with Degree Plus. These extracurricular activities allowed her to develop her communication skills – which is the hallmark of any psychologist – and her Degree Plus experiences provided a great talking point in her interviews. It also demonstrated her flexibility and her ability of time management – skills that are valued by employers in all fields! 

5.You can choose how you earn it

Degree Plus has two routes, verified activities (previously known as route A) and combined experience (route B). Ciara opted for the Combined experience as she met the requirements through her volunteering and participation in societies which she fit around her completion of her Psychology degree. 

6.You might already qualify and not know it

Ciara recalls someone mentioning Degree Pus to her in her final year, she checked the requirements and realised she met them. She didn’t have to do anything extra. “It looks great on my CV,” she said, adding that the formal recognition of extracurricular activities was a testament to the life she lived on Queen’s Campus. Ciara thoroughly enjoyed the time she spent volunteering and in societies – the Degree Plus qualification was just an added bonus! 

If you are a final year student reading this post, it’s important you check the Queen’s website to view the requirements for Degree Plus. Perhaps you might be surprised to see you meet the requirements – there are hundreds of activities which could qualify you for this award. 

To learn more about Degree Plus, join our information session on 6 October at 1pm.

Register here: https://event.webinarjam.com/register/115/10l0lsk0

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gap year volunteering

5 Essential Resources if you are Considering a Gap Year

Taking a year out after graduation to travel, gain work experience or volunteer while you consider your future can be a worthwhile and fulfilling experience. Here, some useful sites with information and opportunities across the globe. 

1.Gapwork

Provides a search facility about projects in various countries, provides information about visas, insurance, safety issues, holiday jobs, accommodation and more. Includes student reviews.

2.Gapyear

Search facility about projects, including wide range of business and finance placements, message board, blogs & journals, international gap year and placement schemes and more.

3.Prospects

Discover gap year opportunities and ideas.

4.Target Jobs

Gap year options and FAQs.

5.The Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Access the latest country-specific travel advice.

For more post-uni inspiration check out the Explore your options section of the Careers, Employability and Skills site