Qual­ity vol­un­teers es­sen­tial

The Wellingtonian - - Front Page - RUBY MACANDREW

A hec­tic in­tro­duc­tion to the world of vol­un­teer­ing might put many off giv­ing up their time for free but for World of Wear­ableart (WOW) vol­un­teer-turned staffer Jay­sell Gopal, it was just the rush she was af­ter.

‘‘You were meant to pick one week of the three but I took it as mean­ing you had to do all three, so I did all of them.’’

De­spite the busy three weeks that en­sued, Gopal said it was a rush to be in­volved with a large event, so she de­cided to do it all again. That was 12 years ago.

Gopal now has a paid role within the WOW team, man­ag­ing mer­chan­dise sales and a large team of vol­un­teers.

The an­nual show, which has been held in Welling­ton for the past 13 years, is cur­rently on the hunt for more than 100 vol­un­teers to fol­low in Gopal’s foot­steps, work­ing front of house or back­stage come Septem­ber.

‘‘Vol­un­teers for us are such an in­te­gral part of show time, we would be ab­so­lutely lost without them.’’

The use of vol­un­teers in events was a ‘‘win­win’’, ac­cord­ing to Gopal, with those in­volved gain­ing hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence deal­ing with lots of peo­ple.

‘‘From their vol­un­teer­ing and see­ing how it all works, a lot of them have been in­spired to con­tinue into in­dus­tries like event man­age­ment and jour­nal­ism.

‘‘It’s quite spe­cial to see where ev­ery­one ends up, know­ing they were in­spired to do that af­ter a three-year stint at WOW.’’

World­wide, it’s not un­com­mon for large events to use vol­un­teers with the Olympics and Com­mon­wealth Games re­ly­ing on thou­sands of peo­ple to give up their time to en­sure ev­ery­thing runs smoothly.

Sim­i­larly in New Zealand, big sport­ing events such as the Rugby World Cup in 2011 and the NZ Sevens tour­na­ment rely on vol­un­teers.

‘‘For the tour­na­ment to suc­ceed, hav­ing qual­ity vol­un­teers is key. They are es­sen­tial,’’ tour­na­ment di­rec­tor Craig Mor­ton said.

‘‘Vol­un­teer pro­grammes have evolved and be­come a lot more so­phis­ti­cated.’’

Mor­ton said about 80 peo­ple had al­ready reg­is­tered to vol­un­teer for next year’s event in Hamil­ton, with a to­tal of 140 needed.

‘‘We’ve had a lot of peo­ple from Welling­ton want­ing to re­main in­volved in the tour­na­ment, which is great.’’

Se­nior ad­vi­sor of vol­un­teer strat­egy Ken Allen from Sport Welling­ton said it was im­por­tant vol­un­teers felt sup­ported by or­gan­i­sa­tions, to en­sure they re­mained happy to work for free.

‘‘Part of my role is to sup­port or­gan­i­sa­tions with how they re­cruit, re­tain, recog­nise and man­age their vol­un­teers.

‘‘For event vol­un­teers, per­sonal growth and recog­ni­tion are far more re­ward­ing than any perks. It’s also the so­cial as­pect and be­ing part of some­thing big that mat­ters.’’

Allen prac­tices what he preaches, vol­un­teer­ing his time for the Welling­ton Phoenix as well as pro­vid­ing coach­ing to up-and-com­ing net­ball um­pires.

‘‘For me vol­un­teer­ing is about giv­ing back to the sport, coach­ing ... and stay­ing fit.’’

The World of Wear­ableart is on the hunt for more than 100 vol­un­teers for this year’s event.

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