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South East Area Volunteer Recognition Event

DoF has for a number of years supported the Young Enterprise Primary Programme by offering staff within the Department the chance to volunteer to deliver modules, with the support of Young Enterprise staff, in local primary schools.  This year I decided to volunteer and spent 6 weeks with Ballywalter Primary School Year 4s delivering the ‘Our Community’ module.  This was a really worthwhile experience as the programme helped the young people to understand what a community is, what shops and services are important in communities, the importance of public workers and services within communities and even introduced them to how and why taxes are paid.  All of this was achieved through fun, activity-based learning and I had the support of the teacher and Young Enterprise throughout.

Young Enterprise then invited me to attend the Volunteer Recognition Event held in Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council Offices so my colleague, Sharon Miles, and I went along.  This event was a chance to thank the many volunteers who give up their time to support the work of Young Enterprise but it was also an opportunity to learn more about the important work Young Enterprise does and the impact it has on young people.  Young Enterprise is a charity, developing the entrepreneurial skills and aspirations of young people aged 4-25 to ensure they leave education prepared for work and for life.

After a lovely breakfast, the EY Ireland Entrepreneur of the Future, Kirsty Burrows from St Coleman’s High School in Ballynahinch told us about her Young Enterprise journey and what she has learnt along the way.  She is now going on to represent Ireland at the World Entrepreneur of the Future competition in Canada.

Guest Speaker Steve McIlwrath, Managing Director of Avalon Guitars, explained to us how his experiences in interviewing young people for job vacancies and through interacting with young people as a mature student at Queen’s University made him realise that young people were ill-prepared for the world of work.  As a result, he has been volunteering with Young Enterprise for the past 7 years as a business adviser for teams of young people developing their own Young Enterprise products – from conception of an idea to production, marketing and selling.

Ian Young from Ian Young Fitness then shared his experience in turning his passion for fitness into a business.  His talk was very inspiring as he told us how he had left a secure job to set up his own business and that if you have a passion for what you want to achieve then you will go the extra mile to get there.

Finally, but by no means least, three Year 7 pupils from Cumran Primary School in Newcastle shared a fabulous presentation with us on how they developed two products – bracelets and stress-balls – and successfully sold them at a trade fair in Lisburn, turning their investment into a tidy profit.  Listeners were impressed as they told us about their market research and showed us their promotional video.

If you would like to find out more about Young Enterprise go to  If you are interested in finding out more about volunteering on the Young Enterprise Primary Programme, please contact Racheal Armstrong, or for Post Primary contact Ruth Davidson, .

Heather Caulfield

Strategic Equality Branch, Department of Finance

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