Volunteer Now - Mairead O'Halloran - Young Enterprise

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Mairead O'Halloran - Young Enterprise

Mairead volunteers with Young Enterprise Northern Ireland’s Primary Programmes. Young Enterprise PhotoNorthern Ireland is a business education charity whose mission is to build a connected world of young people, business volunteers and educators, inspiring each other to succeed through enterprise. They have more than 20 programmes delivered from P2 to University level.

“I retired from a teaching career in June 2009 and in my first year of retirement I mentored two young people with two local charities which I found extremely rewarding. I became involved in other activities as well and thoroughly enjoyed voluntary work. One day I was browsing through the Volunteer Now website looking for more challenges when I came across Young Enterprise  website with which I was familiar, anyway, from my teaching career.  I attended a Young Enterprise session for Volunteers in April 2012 which outlined the programmes offered by the organisation to schools.  I followed up this session with an application form and later was interviewed, perhaps more of a chat really, by the Development Officer of Young Enterprise  The appropriate checks were carried out and, after an excellent training session and the provision of resources I was soon standing in from of a Primary Two class in  a local primary school delivering the “Ourselves” programme to 22 five year olds! “

When asked why she had gotten involved in volunteering Mairead replied, “After retirement I wanted to continue to be involved in education, in some shape or form, and the Young Enterprise  programmes seemed an ideal way to do this.  Young Enterprise programmes begin in Primary Two and continue through to post-primary education.  I was also very impressed, at the Volunteer Session, with the support offered, the training and the resources. Many schools, both primary and post-primary are registered with Young Enterprise and I was able to be placed in my local area which was an added bonus.  Since beginning volunteering with Young Enterprise in September 2012 I have delivered the Primary Two programme  - Ourselves - to three Primary Two classes in Belfast primary schools. The programme, including an “Observation” Session is six weeks long and is delivered through story telling and related activities.

“I am now due to begin the Primary Three programme  “Our Families” in another Belfast primary school.  I chose to begin with the earliest age group and work up to the oldest so that I could familiarize myself with the whole programme.  The children can relate well to the characters and the situations in the stories and love carrying out the activities in their journals.  They also enjoy the questions asked and have a wide range of answers!”

“The Young Enterprise programmes are a wonderful introduction to the World of Work and are tailored to different age groups.  It is very rewarding to see the children relating to the stories and getting so involved with the characters and activities they are involved in.  It is also good to get out of the house and do something worthwhile with your day!  The different schools, age groups and programmes keep you on your toes and it’s also good to meet other volunteers either in the schools or in the Young Enterprise offices at functions or events.”

When asked what advice she would give to people thinking about volunteering, Mairead said, “Don’t hesitate!  There are many excellent Young Enterprise programmes to be delivered to young people in primary and post-primary schools and  plenty of  training and support to prepare Volunteers for the experience. It is extremely rewarding and satisfying to introduce the young to  how business and the world of work operate.”

Young Enterprise Northern IrelandNathan McAuley, Development Manager at Young Enterprise, praises the volunteers and encourages people to get involved.  He said, "Volunteer engagement is at the heart of everything we do at Young Enterprise Northern Ireland. Volunteers like Mairead help deliver programmes to more than 100,000 young people from P2 to University level each and every year. They inspire, educate and empower our young people, and make the link between the classroom and the outside business world. We welcome applications from volunteers of all backgrounds, and are confident that our wide range of roles will ensure that each volunteer will have a rewarding experience."