I came to Cork wanting to learn new skills, develop existing ones, and to gain experience in a graduate role. Project management was my preferred choice and I was happy to work in any industry.
A charity organization was looking for two people to assist with their fundraising, leading up to their annual collection day. Myself and a local girl with a Masters in marketing were given the jobs after an interview process. Experience in a role such as Event Management is precisely what I was looking from the scheme and I am also enjoying the job satisfaction that comes with working in the charity sector.
The company itself is a large operation with a head office in Dublin and the Regional office for the Munster region based here in Cork. The event we had to organize aims to improve the skills, abilities and lives of people who suffer from intellectual disabilities through sporting opportunities.
The event currently has almost 11,000 registered athletes participating in 15 sports in 409 affiliated groups throughout the island of Ireland. These athletes are supported by their families and a team of 25,000 volunteers who give of their time to help out at sporting and fundraising events. It saddens me to say that the British equivalent is not nearly as big, despite our population being 12 times that of Ireland.
Ireland was the first country outside of the USA to host the international Special Olympics in 2003 where approximately 7,000 athletes from 150 countries competed over 18 disciplines. The games dramatically changed the perceptions and attitudes of society regarding the abilities and limitations of people with intellectual disabilities. Now, ten years on, the generosity of the Irish people helps the charity to continue to do its fine work.
My role is to help coordinate the thousands of volunteers that raise money all over Ireland on the one day the charity holds a bucket collection, April 26th this year. As daunting as this task is I also help with the organization of other fundraising events such as sponsored abseils, walks, kayak marathons etc.
It’s hard work and when I get in at 5.30 pm every day I am shattered. The experience I am gaining is great but the real motivation to work comes from knowing that the work I am doing may provide someone with an intellectual ability the chance to develop both physically and emotionally, make new friends, realize their dreams, and know they can fit in. I’m ashamed that I had to come all the way to Ireland to realize that in Britain, we do not do nearly enough for these people.