Volunteer numbers growing in Waikato
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.’’