Gareth Donnelly a Communications student at UUJ, tells us about his experience volunteering with CAUSE. 

'It was always my intention to volunteer with a local charity during my final year of university, I wanted to give some of my time to help in any way that I could.  CAUSE was seeking to recruit a Communications/PR volunteer to help raise awareness for its 25th birthday year and so I quickly put my name forward to help!

After a great first meeting with Verity CAUSE Volunteer Co-ordinator) and Anne Holland (CAUSE Fundraising Manager),  I was all set for my new role as a Communications volunteer.

Fast forward a few months and I have been able to meet various members of the CAUSE team and they have all been so lovely and welcoming. I work mostly within the fundraising and communications department where there is never a dull moment.

On that very first day, Anne persuaded me to sign up for CAUSE’s biggest fundraising event – Strictly for CAUSE 2019

I always fancied myself to be a good dancer but that was exclusively reserved for weekend dance floors, however I quickly learned after attending my first training session that I did not have one ounce of rhythm in me...

Everyone else was twirling, kicking and cartwheeling around me whilst I was like yes! I can do a star-jump! We started training in September with the goal of staging a glitzy and glamorous 'Strictly Christmas with CAUSE' show!

I was like a fish out of water during the early training sessions as without any experience and 3 dances to learn my poor wee legs couldn’t keep up.

My lovely partner Alyssa and I got assigned the Cha-Cha to Snoop Dogg’s version of Winter Wonderland (I know lol) and we had one group dance to All I want for Christmas and one to Fairy-tale of New York. So, no pressure eh?

As the weeks of training went on, I started to grow more confident with the aid of everyone involved in my Strictly experience, they were all so kind and encouraging and they helped me every dance - step of the way.  By the time it came to show night, I was a bundle of nerves and yet still filled with so much excitement and anticipation for the night ahead.   I tanned myself up, got the lowest cut shirt probably ever worn on a man, and wiggled into my skinny fit velvet trousers – time to Cha – Cha!

Our dance went great, I made a couple of tiny mistakes but sure the audience didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing anyway! The judges loved the dance and most importantly my navy lace shirt was a hit!  Our two group dances which book ended the night also went fantastically and it's safe to say I was completely Mariah Carey’d out at the end of it all.

 Apart from my amazing experience with Strictly, I’ve had the best time volunteering for CAUSE. I’ve had the opportunity to see what goes on in the day to day running of a charity and how important promotional materials, communications and PR are for a small local charity. Most recently I was given the chance to go to a recruitment fair at the Belfast MET Millfield campus and talk to various students looking for volunteering and placement opportunities. I highly recommended CAUSE to all the students I talked to.

Strictly for CAUSE was one of the most memorable and exciting things I have ever done, I encourage any of you that have the chance to to take part in Strictly for CAUSE to do it!

More recently I was working on developing some materials for 25th birthday year, having the opportunity to think creatively outside of an educational setting is really fun and rewarding.

 I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with CAUSE and can’t wait to see what the rest of this special year has in store! I cannot emphasise enough how important volunteering is, especially for CAUSE!

And if you do have a few hours to spare this year,  please give a hand in this CAUSE's special 25th birthday year!  I know that you won’t regret it!

Sign up today!'