Hello! My name is Annie Gilliland. I am 22 years old and live in a small village outside Newtownards called Loughries. I graduated from Queen’s University in June 2018 with a degree in Mathematics and then joined B-Secur in September 2018.
How would you describe what you do at B-Secur?
No two days at B-Secur are exactly the same for a data analyst. This means that my role is varied which keeps it exciting. I work on testing the latest algorithms and carrying out analysis on our wide variety of databases. Another big part of the data team is the collection of ECG data, within the office, as well as out and about at different events.
How has your experience been so far?
My experience has been a really great one so far. I never would’ve expected to be given so many opportunities in such a short space of time. I have loved the opportunities specific to my role like going to events and carrying out data collections both locally and further afield. I also have been given opportunities outside of my role such as coordinating a work experience programme for sixth form students – not to forget the new committees that are being formed regularly like the Christmas decorating committee!
We’re keen to support more charitable organisations, both at home in Northern Ireland and abroad. How did your involvement with charity work begin?
For as long as I can remember, I have always had a specific passion for the people of Uganda. Growing up, my parents worked with a charity based out there, so I always heard stories and saw pictures which grew my desire to go. However, at this point I was too young to visit, but I knew I wanted to do something to make a difference.
In order to accomplish this, I had to get creative with my own fundraisers at home to send money over. This consisted of making my mum take me to car boot sales, as well as selling our groceries at the end of our lane in my little shop. Then in 2016 I finally got to visit Uganda for the first time. My love for the people and the country grew, fuelling my desire to want to do something to help. I saw the brokenness and the poverty riddled throughout the whole country and knew that I had to help.
From this point on, I have been involved (along with my mum and sister) in the organisation of many fundraisers, including biannual fashion shows, cinema nights and coffee mornings! We have also set up teams to do sponsored ziplines, abseils and the Belfast marathon. All of these things have the common goal of making a difference in the lives of families in Uganda.
Can you share more about the charity work you are involved with?
Most of the charities that I would support and work alongside are doing work in different African countries – mostly Uganda. One of the charities I have been involved with for a few years now is called New Beginnings. Their aim is to provide a secure and loving environment for vulnerable children in Uganda, currently over 170.
The vulnerable children include orphans, children who have suffered abuse or abandonment, children with special needs and children whose parents are in the local prisons. The children are brought into the village and placed into a house with two house parents, where they are given food and clothing. They are educated in the New Beginnings nursery and primary school (along with underprivileged children from the local community whose parents cannot afford to send them to school) and then sent to the local secondary school in the community.
They are educated in the New Beginnings nursery and primary school (along with underprivileged children from the local community whose parents cannot afford to send them to school) and then sent to the local secondary school in the community. Medical facilities are also on site for all the kids. All of these things can be provided through the generous donations and sponsorships provided from Northern Ireland.
Another charity I am extremely passionate about is a charity called Obulamu Outreach Ministries. This charity was set up by Zoe Matovu (Deazley) from Omagh and her husband Simon Matovu from Kampala.
Obulamu, meaning New Life, exists to improve the standard of life for as many impoverished families as possible in Kawempe, a community on the outskirts of Kampala. They have three programmes set up so far as a means in which people can help. They have a child sponsorship programme, a gift programme and more recently the Women’s Empowerment Programme.
The Women’s Empowerment Programme aims to educate and equip the parents in the slum to allow them to continue to care for their families. This programme consists of a one-week intensive Business Management and Skills course, as well as parenting and nutrition classes.
At the end of the trainings, each mother will be assessed on which business model would be best for them according to their interests and time availability with children. The mothers are then given a small grant to help them set up their new business.I have been very fortunate to visit Uganda each year to see the difference that these organisations can make.
Last year, some of the money we fundraised was spent on mattresses and mosquito nets for the children. Most of the children did not have mosquito nets, meaning malaria was a very common illness, and many either didn’t have a mattress or had to share with others. It’s safe to say that when the mattresses arrived and were taken into the church, I’ve never seen children more excited.
They just spent the afternoon playing and jumping off the mattresses, it was like Christmas but better! In that moment, I realised that something so simple and easily taken for granted by me, can provide such joy and excitement for someone else. That day encouraged me to keep raising awareness and fundraising so that many more families can experience the joy that I saw.
Paying It Forward “I love that B-Secur is so enthusiastic to help charities both locally and internationally, and I’m excited to be involved in the process. It’s a great opportunity to show the same support we were given as a start-up company.”
Why do you think it’s important for companies to champion social causes?
I think it is always important for companies to be involved in charitable work, as it is easy for businesses to make a lasting impact due to their size and outreach capabilities. I love that B-Secur is so enthusiastic to help charities both locally and internationally, and I’m excited to be involved in the process. For B-Secur specifically, it is a great opportunity to show the same support we were given as a start-up company to Obulamu and their Women’s Empowerment Programme. From the first batch of mothers that completed the course, hairdressers, clothes shops and bakeries are just some of the businesses that have been started! It’ll be so rewarding to see how many more businesses will come from the help we are able to offer.
What’s next for charity support from B-Secur?
A team from B-Secur are running the Belfast Marathon in May this year for two charities. One of which is Obulamu, so we will be raising money for the Women’s Empowerment Programme. You can help us by donating to our JustGiving page. I am also hoping to head back out to Uganda around Spring this year. So, in the run up to that there will be various events to fundraise for the work I’ll do while I’m there and updates will be provided from the work we’ve already contributed to.