Vol­un­teer num­bers grow­ing in Waikato

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

Vol­un­teer­ing Waikato will this year be cel­e­brat­ing 20 years of vol­un­tary work through­out the re­gion.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion was es­tab­lished in 1993 to help com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions find and en­list vol­un­teers, and for those who wished to do vol­un­tary work to find the right op­por­tu­nity to do so.

Since then it has worked with more than 23,000 vol­un­teers around the Waikato.

Cur­rently Vol­un­teer­ing Waikato works 245 com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions.

‘‘ We worked with 2400 vol­un­teers in that re­gion last year,’’ said Heather Moore, Vol­un­teer­ing Waikato gen­eral man­ager.

‘‘That is the largest num­ber of vol­un­teers we have ever had in any one year.’’

As part of its op­er­a­tions, the or­gan­i­sa­tion pro­vides train­ing in best prac­tice in vol­un­teer re­cruit­ment, man­age­ment, vol­un­teer re­ten­tion, and net­work­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for those work­ing with vol­un­teers.

‘‘Many of our vol­un­teers are young peo­ple, some­times seek­ing to gain work ex­pe­ri­ence or ex­pand their CVs, as well as vol­un­teer­ing as a mean­ing­ful recre­ational ac­tiv­ity.

‘‘ An in­crease in the un­em­ploy­ment rate in re­cent years has also in­creased the pool of vol­un­teers be­cause peo­ple are need­ing re­cent work ex­pe­ri­ence, re­cent ref­er­ees, and also want to stay en­gaged in the com­mu­nity while they seek paid em­ploy­ment.’’

Ms Moore said for new mi­grants, vol­un­teer­ing can be a use­ful way of mak­ing con­nec­tions and con­tacts in the com­mu­nity, and helps them un­der­stand how their new com­mu­nity works.

It also helps them gain recog­ni­tion of their skills in the com­mu­nity so they can ob­tain ad­e­quate ref­er­ees when seek­ing paid em­ploy­ment.

‘‘In re­cent years Vol­un­teer­ing Waikato’s on­line ser­vices have meant that the or­gan­i­sa­tion has been able to re­cruit and re­fer vol­un­teers in towns through­out the re­gion,’’ she said.

‘‘In 2012 we had more than 500 vol­un­teers reg­is­ter from towns through­out the re­gion, out­side of Hamil­ton – a 400 per cent in­crease on 2011.

‘‘As well, we had or­gan­i­sa­tions in those ru­ral towns that were reg­is­tered with us seek­ing vol­un­teers through­out 2012.

‘‘Ob­vi­ously vol­un­teer­ing is recog­nised by many in the com­mu­nity as a highly worth­while way to con­trib­ute, and to be­come in­volved.’’

As part of its cel­e­bra­tions this year Vol­un­teer­ing Waikato has launched a new brand, which Ms Moore said re­flects the di­ver­sity of peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties that it works with.

The new logo has been de­signed by a group of Win­tec stu­dents from the School of Me­dia Arts.

‘‘Af­ter 20 years we be­lieve Vol­un­teer­ing Waikato is now widely recog­nised as an or­gan­i­sa­tion that con­trib­utes a great deal of value to the com­mu­ni­ties in which it op­er­ates.’’

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