Volunteering – Individuals

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Volunteers with Northern Visions!

Volunteering is about giving up your time to do something useful. You won’t get paid but you will learn new skills, have new experiences and meet new people.

If you are looking for training experience through volunteering and you have no or very little experience then your best route is to look for training courses at further education colleges and universities.

We run structured training programmes with our partners which are advertised in the local press and occasional workshops and summer schools which are advertised on our website. All of these require some practical knowledge of digital media.

We also provide places for the long term unemployed through schemes such as New Deal. We prefer people with some practical knowledge of digital media but have made exceptions. There is tough competition for these places. You may also find a course to suit you at organisations such as FilmBase in Dublin.

Apart from the workshops we advertise from time to time, generally, we do not take work or training placements for less than three months. With the rare exception of an individual who is particularly gifted and/or socially disadvantaged, all our places are offered on structured programmes, which are publicly advertised.

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This information is therefore aimed at those individuals wishing to volunteer for a period longer than three months who have a good knowledge and practical experience of digital media and television and preferably experience working with communities and/or communities of interest. We value the experience of those who have volunteered over the medium term with charities, community development groups, arts, music, culture, sports and heritage groups, community health, women, older people, disability groups, children and young people initiatives etc as much as we value experience of digital media and television.

In traditional television, media production is divided into roles and crafts such as presenter, journalist, cameraperson, sound recordist, editor, director etc. Volunteers who wish to further their careers in a single role will find other placements such as with production companies or regional television broadcasters more suited to their needs. At Northern Visions, everyone is multi-skilled and this is the way we train others. These traditional roles tend to merge so an individual is expected to gain enough knowledge to embrace the majority of them.

Those wishing for a career in drama should enquire with Northern Ireland Screen about the opportunities available as the vast majority of projects undertaken at Northern Visions are arts, heritage and cultural projects, social documentaries, current affairs and news gathering plus the special projects which you can read about on our website such as Our Generation and A Century Later.

Please be aware that we receive hundreds of requests from individuals which state variations of the following “I have always wanted to work in the media and I believe I would gain great experience with your company”…. and that’s it! We are a small organisation with limited resources and simply cannot make a decision on an individual’s aspiration alone.

It is not necessary for an individual to have a media degree, in fact many of our staff gained degrees in other fields such as music, engineering, mathematics, anthropology, economics, Irish history, literature and others came from social and economic backgrounds where the opportunity to go on to third level education was severely constrained. What we are interested in is what an individual has achieved in practical terms in digital media production. The onus is on those wishing to volunteer with us to use their own initiative to enhance their skills through practical experience before approaching us.

Use or borrow a smart phone, an iPad, a camera… for example, an iPad can be used for shooting, editing and distributing via the web. We are not looking for a perfectly constructed short drama piece, we are interested in you, in your interests and how you document ideas which come from the society we live in and your experience of it. You should include examples of different types of interviews, again it doesn’t matter to us what they are about, they could be your friend’s band or a person organising a local event or an interview with an artist, or a community worker or reminiscence with an older person. We are interested in what you are offering for others in the community which will improve people’s quality of life.

Please also send us information about yourself and your interests, how you have used your passion for communicating with others, your social skills, what you read in order to understand the issues of the day and what you feel you have achieved in supporting those whose lives are less fortunate than yours. You may do this in the form of a CV or in writing a short document of approximately two pages of A4.

All would-be volunteers take a competency test at Northern Visions in camera and sound. Volunteers are expected to work long and anti-social hours on occasion. What you can expect from us is voluntary work in a unique supportive environment that allows you to realise a creative project from conception to transmission…real practical experience, learning new skills, meeting new people, making a difference and a rung on the ladder to greater success.

Northern Visions was awarded an Investors in Volunteers quality mark in 2011. It is one of approx 470 organisations in the UK to obtain the quality mark.