Volunteer with Us
You can make a difference in a child’s life.
I could be sitting at home watching television or gardening… But instead you feel you’ve made a difference in some very small way.
– Suas volunteer, autumn 2019
Suas volunteers empower children to learn by reading books or playing number games with them. Our volunteers come from all age groups and a wide variety of backgrounds. You don’t need any special qualifications, just a serious commitment to helping young people who need a boost in school.
Volunteers are the heart and soul of our Reading Buddy and Maths Buddy programmes. They help to build the skills and the confidence that students need to succeed in education and in life.
Suas programmes are run by our team of project managers and supervised by school staff to ensure that everyone involved feels comfortable and supported at all times. As a volunteer, you’ll receive full training and have access to guidance all the way through the programme.
What do the Reading Buddy and Maths Buddy programmes involve?
Both programmes are very simple but effective ways of helping children who have fallen behind in school. Anyone with very basic reading or maths skills can be a Reading Buddy or Maths Buddy!
Read with children aged 8–12
Help them learn to love books and become more confident reading out loud
Twice a week for 8 weeks
Play simple number games with children aged 7–8
Cover very easy subjects like addition, subtraction, halving, and doubling
Twice a week for 7 weeks
What our volunteers say?
How much time is involved?
You’ll be at the school for 14–16 hours over 7–8 weeks. This is broken down into 2 sessions per week, each 1 hour long.
You’ll also need to complete a short training session (1–2 hours) and visit the school for an introduction before the programme begins (0.5–1 hour).
How do I become a Reading Buddy or Maths Buddy?
Click the APPLY NOW link at the top of this page and you’ll be taken to our application form. From there, it’s a simple 5-step process!
Step 1: Submit your application form.
Please read the days and times for each school carefully, and only apply for a programme if it fits your schedule. You must be available for both days of the programme.
Step 2: Send in your Garda vetting form.
You will receive an email with a link to our Garda vetting form. Please fill this out and return it to Suas as soon as possible. When placing volunteers in schools, we will always give priority to the people who send in their vetting forms soonest.
Step 3: Get your placement.
As soon we receive your vetting form, we will let you know which school you’ll be working in. We will always try to place you in your chosen school, but if the programme is full we may offer you another local option.
Step 4: Complete your training.
Reading Buddy volunteers can complete training online, and Maths Buddy volunteers attend a 2-hour training session. You will receive details via email.
Step 5: Get started.
This is where the real fun begins! You’ll have a chance to visit the school a week before the programme begins to meet your fellow volunteers and learn a little about the community of staff and students, and after that it’s time to get down to reading and maths!
Suas Ireland Programme
Why should I volunteer with Suas Ireland?
There are few better ways to make an impact on children’s lives than becoming a Suas volunteer. Suas work with designated disadvantaged (DEIS) schools across Ireland to select children who would benefit most from one-to-one support from volunteers. Suas volunteers have been proven to significantly boost the reading, maths and confidence levels of the children involved in the programme.
How do I apply to volunteer?
Click the link at the top of this page to apply, and you will be taken to an application form.
What do I need to do?
First, make sure that this is an opportunity you can fully commit to. If you are applying to become a literacy volunteer, you will need to commit to two hours a week for a total of eight weeks (excluding travel time to / from school). If you are applying to become a numeracy mentor, you will need to commit to two hours a week for a total of seven weeks (again excluding travel time to / from school). Details of the volunteering options (schools, days, times) are available on the application form above.
When/Where does volunteering happen?
Volunteering takes place in our partner schools, during the school day. Sessions take place in a designated “Suas” space, for example the school library, with a school staff member in attendance to supervise the session.
What time slots/locations are available?
You will find a list of available locations and times on the application form. Please note the days and times are set and agreed with our partner schools based on school timetables, and you will not be able to attend a school at a different time than the one listed.
The time slots/locations don’t suit me, what can I do?
New projects are always being added — either for this term, or for the next. Fill in your details on the application form and we can keep you posted on new opportunities as they come up.
What kind of volunteers are Suas looking for?
We are looking for volunteers who are fully engaged and committed to making a difference in a child’s life! Volunteers need to be able to commit to attend sessions twice a week for seven/eight weeks depending on the nature of the volunteering role (literacy/numeracy). Volunteers are role models to the children they will be working with. Volunteers should be respectful, focused and encouraging to the children involved. Consistent attendance and support is critical in making the biggest impact on the children involved. Research has consistently shown the more engaged a mentor, the bigger the results. If you are committed and passionate about helping end educational disadvantage in Ireland, this is the volunteering opportunity for you.
What makes a great volunteer?
First and foremost, consistent attendance is key to ensuring that students get the most of the programme.
Volunteers should be present and enthusiastic during sessions, offering positive reinforcement and guidance throughout. Volunteers should be respectful of the children, school staff and fellow volunteers. Relationship-building between volunteers and children is a crucial aspect of all our programmes (with a third of the session dedicated to this) – be open and positive! Be prepared for sessions beforehand, familiarising yourself with any relevant materials and reviewing previous session notes as needed. Simply put, the best indication of being a great mentor is that, at the end of each session, you and your mentee have made progress with the learning materials and enjoyed your time together.
Do I need to have experience of working with children to volunteer?
No, full training is provided by Suas. All we ask is that you are committed and enthusiastic, and would be comfortable working one-to-one with children on their reading or maths. Refer also to “What kind of volunteers are Suas looking for?”
Do I need to be Garda Vetted and what’s involved?
In order to volunteer with Suas, all mentors need to be vetted by the National Vetting Bureau. Once you submit an application form, you will receive instructions on how to complete the vetting process. There are two forms to complete – a paper form and, once this has been processed, an e-form. As volunteers need to be cleared before they can begin, we rely on applicants to complete and submit forms quickly. Suas staff are on hand to answer any questions at any stage. Click here for details
What training is available and what’s involved?
Training is compulsory and easily completed. Our literacy training is delivered online, and takes approximately 1 hour to complete. Numeracy training is delivered in-person at various central city locations and takes approx 2.5 hours to complete. Suas will share training options available to you once you’ve submitted your application and a briefing session in the school where you will volunteer will also be organised by Suas in advance of you beginning your volunteer role. The briefing session serves as a meet-and-greet for everyone involved in the project. It provides an opportunity for you to meet your fellow mentors, Suas staff and school staff and to learn more about the school where you will be working and the children you will be working with. You can also pose any questions you still have.
I’ve volunteered with Suas before, do I need to re-apply?
Yes, you will need to submit a new application form. Garda vetting is valid for 18 months, so if you have been vetted by Suas within the last 12 months, you do not need to be vetted again for the coming term.
If I have questions at any stage, who can I talk to?
Suas staff are on hand to answer any questions you may have at any stage. Each project will be assigned a Group Leader (normally a fellow volunteer) who will be on hand to answer any questions before or during sessions. Any follow up questions can be addressed to Suas staff who are assigned to your project also.
What happens once I’ve finished volunteering?
You will be invited to a Suas graduation at the end of your project. This is an opportunity for Suas to not only celebrate the children’s achievements, but it is also a chance to recognise the contribution of all of our volunteers. We would also ask volunteers to complete an evaluation survey at the end of the project.