Vol­un­teers keep coun­try’s wheels turn­ing

The vi­tal con­tri­bu­tion of 1.2 mil­lion vol­un­teers will be recog­nised and cel­e­brated dur­ing Na­tional Vol­un­teer Week from June 19-25.

The Tribune (NZ) - - BACKYARD BANTER -

The an­nual event is also a time to pro­mote vol­un­teer op­por­tu­ni­ties and en­cour­age peo­ple from all walks of life to get in­volved with what­ever is go­ing on in their com­mu­ni­ties.

Check out or­gan­i­sa­tions in your neigh­bourly.co.nz com­mu­nity or make a post of­fer­ing your time if you’re keen to give vol­un­teer­ing a go.

There are many in­cred­i­ble vol­un­teer or­gan­i­sa­tions in New Zealand but here are a few that may have es­caped your no­tice – and might just be in your own back­yard:

1. Com­mu­nity Pa­trols NZ. A com­mu­nity pa­trol is a vol­un­tary group help­ing take re­spon­si­bil­ity within its own area to help the po­lice make their sub­urbs safer to live and work in. Lo­cal groups are of­ten af­fil­i­ated with Com­mu­nity Pa­trols of New Zealand. Com­mu­nity pa­trollers act as the ‘eyes and ears’ for po­lice. Vol­un­teers pa­trol their com­mu­ni­ties in pairs, tak­ing note of any­thing that could be sus­pi­cious and in­form­ing po­lice im­me­di­ately of in­ci­dents re­quir­ing ur­gent at­ten­tion. Pa­trollers usu­ally hit the streets once a month.

2. New­com­ers Net­work. Any­one set­tling into a new coun­try will have a few im­me­di­ate con­cerns to con­tend with. These in­clude find­ing a home, a job and schools for their chil­dren. Be­yond these ini­tial needs are on­go­ing chal­lenges such as mak­ing new friends, un­der­stand­ing the lan­guage, and fa­mil­iaris­ing them­selves with the dif­fer­ent cus­toms of their newly adopted coun­try. This is why the New­com­ers Net­work was es­tab­lished. Some branches op­er­ate as part of the ser­vices pro­vided by other or­gan­i­sa­tions, such as a mul­ti­cul­tural coun­cil. But all net­works use the ser­vices of vol­un­teers. Ex­am­ples of events reg­u­larly hosted for new­com­ers in­clude walk­ing groups and cof­fee meet­ings.

3. Bel­ly­ful. Bel­ly­ful was or­gan­ised around the idea that com­mu­nity mem­bers can of­fer sup­port to new fam­i­lies or those who are fac­ing a se­ri­ous or ter­mi­nal ill­ness. Hav­ing some­one pop around with a cou­ple of cooked meals can pro­vide some prac­ti­cal sup­port in all of these sit­u­a­tions. Vol­un­teers get to­gether to cook and freeze the meals, which are then de­liv­ered to needy fam­i­lies.

4. Hos­pice NZ. We are prob­a­bly most aware of vol­un­teers who help hos­pice with its street ap­peals, serv­ing meals or work­ing in the or­gan­i­sa­tion’s re­tail shops. But did you know that many lo­cal hos­pices are seek­ing trained bi­og­ra­phy vol­un­teers to spend time with pa­tients – lis­ten­ing, record­ing, and dis­cussing as­pects of their lives. In­ter­views recorded by the vol­un­teers are tran­scribed and given to the pa­tients as bound books or in a dig­i­tal for­mat.

5. For­est and Bird. Vol­un­teers for For­est and Bird are in­volved in plant­ing trees and plants, pest con­trol, mak­ing sub­mis­sions to lo­cal gov­ern­ment, and a host of other ac­tiv­i­ties. This is one or­gan­i­sa­tion that is bound to have a pres­ence in your neigh­bour­hood.

Vol­un­teers band to­gether to tidy up a wa­ter­way – can you spare a cou­ple of hours week to help?

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