Rich rewards for prison volunteers

Why do prisons need volunteers?

"One of the keys to reducing re-offending is helping people live crime-free after they have served their sentence or order," according to the Department of Corrections' Approach to Reintegration brochure.

At the Northland Regional Corrections Facility (NRCF — Ngāwhā) prisoners and staff depend on a core of volunteers to help enable this approach.

With a certain amount of trepidation I recently visited the prison to observe a volunteer working with a prisoner to improve his literacy skills. I needn't have worried. Personal security is definitely not an issue. Security staff are efficient and friendly, and Porsha Anderson, regional volunteer co-ordinator at NRCF, immediately instills confidence with her professional and engaging manner.

However, I was only there for one morning, and was free to leave at any time. For many of those serving a sentence, life could not be more different. Imagine, too, not being able to complete a job application, or even write a simple letter. Then throw in a hearing or sight disability (or both), a communication difficulty and few social skills.

In fact, more than half of New Zealand's prison population is functionally illiterate.

Facing these challenges, along with a prison record, must make living an offence-free life incredibly difficult. That's where people like you come in.

What does volunteering in prison involve? By volunteering a chosen amount of your time, in your chosen activity, you can help contribute to the success of prisoners' reintegration into society. There is no need for volunteers to be qualified teachers; communication skills, integrity and the ability to engage in a non-judgmental way with the men are vital to foster a trusting environment conducive to learning. Some of the programmes, though, may require previous experience.

Literacy and numeracy programmes set up by the New Zealand Howard League for Penal Reform (a charitable organisation) are in great demand. Other current activities range from music, meditation and arts to increasing confidence by learning public speaking (go to www.volunteeringnorthland.nz and search for 'corrections' for the full list.

Porsha is always exploring new activities that meet the criteria of supporting the men's education, training and rehabilitation. For example, in partnership with Bay of Islands Animal Rescue, a dog fostering scheme is soon to be introduced.

The volunteer I met, Avril, is tutoring one student on a Howard League literacy course. The Howard League supplies all the resources Avril and her student need, including reading books and a writing programme. In this instance, the charity also helpfully provided a special magnifying sheet to support the student's visual impairment.

Avril volunteers for one hour a week with a prisoner who has been carefully assessed to participate in the programme. A lot of their time is spent in conversation, which has really improved the student's communication skills, and the hour passes quickly. They use the Howard League workbooks and follow a 12-week programme.

Avril has worked with this particular student for a while now, and they have built up a trusting relationship. Prisoners are matched with volunteers by NRCF case managers, who endeavour to take into consideration prisoners' preferences for gender and age, alongside any cultural requirements.

After volunteers undergo police vetting, Porsha runs a thorough orientation for newbies, including a site tour and a visit to where they will be working. Ensuring the safety and security of volunteers is paramount.

Avril says there is "nothing threatening" about her visits, and security staff are visible, but not intrusive.

Procedures for visitors entering the meeting rooms seem similar to airport security, but with extra door activations.

What do volunteers get out of it? Supporting prisoners to turn their lives around is a rewarding experience.

As a bonus, Avril's student has been teaching her New Zealand sign language. She also feels a great sense of achievement on behalf of her student as his speaking and writing skills improve.

"We want prisoners to have an education so they can be successful, and there is often no way forward unless people give just a little bit of their time," she says, adding that Porsha organises monthly appreciation lunches for all the volunteers, which are great for a catch-up and get-together.

How do the offenders feel about working with volunteers? Avril's student tells me he looks forward to his literacy class.

"It is interesting, and I am learning," he says.

He is now able to write a letter to the Parole Board, and also to his mother. His sense of pride shines through when he talks about his art work being displayed in the Kaikohe Courthouse, and he shows me a song he has written for his music group.

Volunteers have given him opportunities to learn, and without his newly acquired skills, reintegration back into his community on his release would be daunting and challenging, he adds.

The NRCF would love to welcome more volunteers who can offer tutoring in a range of skills to the prisoners.

The Howard League's literacy scheme is especially looking for more volunteers. Having met Avril's student, and experienced his enthusiasm, I know that any time donated would be extremely worthwhile and highly valued.

At present the music group is looking for someone to lead them. All you need is a musical background and the ability to maintain the equipment.

Is this you?

Browse all current volunteering opportunities at NRCF here

Story by Diana Smith, Volunteer Reporter at Volunteering Northland.

28-11-2019
Volunteering for Hospice shop music to Whangārei man's ears

Northland has the highest rate of volunteering in New Zealand. Around 37 per cent of the adult population volunteer for about four hours per week on average, according to Volunteering Northland. Today we introduce you to one of our selfless volunteers.


Many hands make light work, and this is evident in the retail volunteer operations of the North Haven Hospice shops in Whangārei.

There are often up to 20 volunteers at any given time in the retail processing centre, where goods donated by the public are sorted and processed based on the item's condition and value, then priced for sale in the Hospice shops.

Colin Sheenan has been giving his time there for the past two years.

You will usually find Sheenan on the music workstation: sorting, or processing items which vary from music DVDs and CDs, to vinyl, and even cassettes – this comes as no surprise because music is very much a passion for him.

He is a "self-confessed music nut" who not only plays in a band but is also a DJ on community radio Beagle Radio under the moniker "Spider". For Sheenan, volunteering is a way to "do something useful, be proactive" and to "give back to community".

While there are many like him who give their time throughout the week, the Hospice is now also putting a focus on a "new way of volunteering" in their shop processing centre in central Whangarei, one that allows volunteers to give their time in a more flexible way.

Kathy McMillan, retail manager for the Whangarei and Waipu Hospice shops, says the new pop-in concept which has been in place for the past few months, is like a working bee where people can pop-in for an hour or two to help in the sorting process, and then pop back out.

This style of volunteering enables people to fit in volunteering around their lifestyles and commitments, whether it be school, work, or community involvements; where one can contribute in a simple, practical way without a huge time commitment, while having a bit of fun.

She encourages people to give it a go and bring their friends, family, or colleagues.

The concept of a pop-in volunteering system is a marked change from traditional volunteering, but as she puts it, is also clearly "a sign of the times. It's 2019". The volunteering workforce is changing, something McMillan is very much aware of.

While those aged 70-75 years (which makes up around 70 per cent of the Hospice's processing centre and shop volunteers) may be accustomed to volunteering as a way of life and many often want to give back because their loved ones have been through Hospice, there is a need to reach other generations, to keep the volunteering life cycle sustainable in the long term.

To put into perspective the impact of micro-volunteering, a group of boys from Whangarei Boys' High School pop-in regularly at the processing centre, and "they can sort and process up to $600 worth of stock" for the retail stores in less than two hours, she said.

A few hours here and there by the volunteers all add up to essential funds towards providing quality Hospice care and services for the community.

Volunteers are welcome to pop-in for a couple of hours (or more) at the Hospice shop processing centre on John St, to help sort donated items; this can be in the morning or afternoon from Monday to Saturday, or Thursday evenings.

The team at Hospice are also seeking volunteers interested in retail experience, such as shifts on the sales counters, and as merchandisers.

If you would like to get involved, contact Eve or Kathy at Hospice on 09 438 1050 ext 1 or browse all current Hospice Volunteering Opportunities here.

Story by Katie Hock, Volunteer Reporter at Volunteering Northland.













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08-11-2019
Governance bites, 90 minute sessions monthly

We are holding monthly governance workshops 5:15pm -7pm for anyone who is on the board of a Northland community organisation.

Join on-site in Whangarei (ASB Stadium) or on-line, at home or as in group in Dargaville or Kaitaia.

The sessions will be live-streamed all over Northland allowing off-site participants to interact, asking questions using on-line technology. They will also be available to be viewed on-demand up to ten days after the session on the Facebook group
Community Governance Northland. Note you need to have joined the group.

Other venues around Northland are available for those interested to watch the live-stream together and share a few slices of pizza. (we recommend to watch as a group because of the exercises during the workshop).

Dargaville Location SportsVille Dargaville - Memorial Park, Logan Street. Convened by Lara Stott (Kaipara District Council)
Register your attendance here: Governance Bites Kaipara

Kaitaia Location: Te Ahu Centre.
Convened by Teresa Hart (Te Houtaewa Maori Trust).
Register your attendance here: Governance Bites Kaitaia

Whangarei Location: ASB Stadium, lounge 1 ($10 koha for pizza and refreshments).
Register your attendance here: Governance Bites Whangarei

The workshops/digital live-stream will be held each month on a Monday, use the link by clicking here (note link will be published closer to the date).

Schedule:

  • 12 August: What is a Board actually for?
  • 9 September: Understanding your constitution, rules or trust deed
  • 14 October: Life-cycles of organisations and boards
  • 4 November: Getting and keeping good board members
  • 16 December: Working with difficult people
  • Continuing in 2020 as of 9 March with:
    • Legal responsibilities of boards
    • Reading financial statements for board members
    • Secrets of a good board chair
    • How to have better meetings
    • The board as a team
    • Strategic leadership
    • Managing key personnel
    • Board manager relationships
    • Reporting

These bite-sized seminars are designed to be interactive and packed with useful information and tips for ensuring your board is effective in adding value to the important work that your organisation does. Whether you are a new or experienced board member, or planning to join the board of a community organisation, these workshops will allow you to explore relevant issues facing boards and up-skill your governance leadership capabilities. We also strongly encourage youth participation.

We will hand out a "Governance Bites Certificate" to individuals that attend 7 or more sessions.

Sign-up:
  • Preferred for all: Join the Facebook group Community Governance Northland so you will be kept up to date.
  • In addition On-site attendants need to use the sign-up button here,
  • or email info@volunteeringnorthland.nz
  • or call 0800-865268 / 09-9454984 for assistance.
On the day:
  • Sessions in Whangarei, Dargaville and Kaitaia start at 5:15pm with a slice of pizza.
  • On-line sessions: Camera rolling at 5:15pm, sessions starting at 5:30 sharp. Web-link provide on this page and in top-post of the Facebook group (you need to have signed up to the group: Community Governance Northland).
 
These workshops are:
  • Facilitated by Volunteering Northland
  • Supported by SPORT Northland
  • Funded by Foundation North, Kaipara District Council and Whangarei District Council
  • Recorded by C North
  • Delivered by LEAD, Sandy Thompson

04-11-2019
Bream Bay Coastal Care Trust; Caring for our Coastline

"This is how we help save our world – local people working on local projects" 

Since 2006 the Bream Bay Coastal Care Trust has been helping to care for the 700 hectares of coastal land held by the Department of Conservation in Bream Bay. The Trust is looking for more people to join in this important work.

A founding member of the Trust, Marilyn Cox is taking a lead in restoring native coastal vegetation at Uretiti. Dunes protect the natural character of beaches and protect them from coastal erosion. But dunes are fragile and easily destroyed, relying on the plants that grow on them to trap sand. When dune plants are destroyed, dunes are lost. “Our beaches are our greatest resource” says Marilyn. “If they’re not looked after, if people don’t value them, we’ll lose them.” Planting is well established at the entrance to the campground but there is much more to do, with restoration of native dune plantings along the Tahuna walkway a high priority.

The restoration of the Ruakaka Dunes Lake shows what is possible with dedicated effort; native forest is flourishing where there was once nothing but gorse. Luana Pirihi, from local hapu Patuharakeke, has taken the lead on this project. “This is the only dune lake between Auckland and the Far North. It’s important that we keep this remnant of our coastal ecology going, “says Luana. There is ongoing work to do; there are still threats to water quality and to water levels, and the invasive weed climbing asparagus is present on the lake side. “Volunteering and conservation can’t just be for older people. We have to pass the message on to younger people,” says Luana.

Robbie Jones joined the Trust in 2009. She is passionate about protecting and enhancing the biodiversity of the Bream Bay area. “It is so important to look after the natural environment. There are so many threats to the survival of our seabirds.” One of the biggest threats is human disturbance. “Ruakaka estuary is a significant area for the godwits for roosting and feeding in the summer. It’s also a significant nesting area for the New Zealand dotterel and oyster catchers. But they really struggle because we get all the visitors at the same time.” The Trust provides education, fencing and signage to prevent people walking and driving through bird nesting areas, but judging by the number of fledged chicks “we’re only holding the line” says Robbie. “I wouldn’t call it progress.”

The Trust works closely with the Northern Regional Council CoastCare Coordinator, and the Department of Conservation. These links help the Trust to access funding, training and advice; ensures that health and safety and conservation standards are consistent with best practice; and connects Bream Bay Coastal Care to the network of groups around Northland committed to the same goals.

This is how we help save our world – local people working on local projects, sharing our connection to this special place. Everyone can help – keep to designated paths on the dunes, avoid the shorebird nesting areas, join a planting day, join the Trust. “Conservation is an enduring thread through my life,” says Robbie Jones. “I try to do something every day, even if it is just picking up plastic when I’m walking the dog.” Marilyn envisages a time when conservation is an enduring thread through our community. “Ideally we would have groups all along the coastline looking after their little patch”.

Help out, get in touch with Volunteering Northland.

Story by Helen Frances, volunteer reporter for Volunteering Northland
 

08-10-2019
Volunteer Lew Lathrope - 90 years old; keeping on, keeping on

"I like to be part of things. Without volunteering I don’t know what I’d do. It’s a very important part of my retirement.”

Carpenter and joiner, farmer, gardener, auctioneer, maintenance man, ballroom dancer, musician, a Freemason, a Lion, a family man – Lew Lathrope has had a busy and varied life, and at ninety years old he is still busy volunteering at the Mangawhai Museum and the Factory Op Shop.

Lew moved from Auckland to Mangawhai six years ago at age 84. He left the city he had lived in all his life, and his job on the maintenance team at Waipuna Conference Hotel where he had worked for 10 years. “It was the biggest change I’ve ever made. It was a real shock” says Lew. The move brought him closer to his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren, but also left him feeling idle and isolated. “I’m not talking to anybody, I’m not seeing anybody, so I started looking for something to do. I saw that no matter what I wanted to do there was a group doing it that I could join.” The museum was just opening so Lew signed up for maintenance and restoration work, and a regular stint on the front desk. He also polishes brass and silver and restores furniture for the op-shop. “I get pleasure out of making things look good again – I get pleasure from other people’s enjoyment. I like exercising the skills that I have.”

Talking to Lew is a lesson in living and ageing well. Keep busy doing something you enjoy, stay connected to people - this would be Lew’s advice, and volunteering has provided him with the opportunity to do that. “Volunteering is just a continuation of how I’ve lived my life. It’s the way I am - I like to be part of things. Without volunteering I don’t know what I’d do. It’s a very important part of my retirement.”

Fulfilling volunteer roles can be found throught the Kaipara district. Jump on the Volunteering Northland website to view them all, or ph 0800 865 268

Story by Helen Frances, volunteer reporter for Volunteering Northland

07-10-2019
Bay of Islands College students clean up Kawakawa for Keep NZ Beautiful Week

A week-long rubbish blitz by students from Bay of Islands College has cleaned up almost every street in Kawakawa.

Every day, as part of Keep New Zealand Beautiful Week, students have donned gloves and high-vis vests and hit a different part of town in search of trash.

On Thursday they cleaned up Hospital Hill; on Friday it was the turn of Room 9R, who targeted Commercial, Church and Albert Streets.

Alexus Kelly, 13, from Moerewa, said it felt good to be helping the Earth and her community.

''We're making the town cleaner, healthier and safer,'' she said.

Classmate Unique Marsters, also 13, said they picked up a lot of bottles, lolly wrappers, plastic, and even a dead cat.

Richard Higgins, who teaches English and environmental sustainability management, came up with the idea to clean up the entire town.

Every day teachers picked a time and a different section of town, with the PE class, for example, combining a run with a clean-up along the cycle trail.

The initiative had been warmly received by townsfolk with drivers tooting or stopping to say thanks and hundreds engaging via social media.

''It's a great opportunity for the kids to get involved in something. We're walking the talk. Instead of hoping someone else will do it, we're rolling up our sleeves and doing it ourselves.''

Higgins estimated students had collected 30 sacks of rubbish during the five days.

He said rubbish problems, such as the great garbage patch in the middle of the Pacific, could seem overwhelming and impossible to solve but it was possible to make a difference by tackling the problem in ''bite-size pieces''.

(see more images Here )

Story by Peter de Graaf, The Northern Advocate, 14 Sept 2019
 

18-09-2019
Changing lives through Music

A radical way of learning to play music is opening up Whangarei children's lives to new possibilities and building their resilience.

That's what Sam Winterton, programme director of Sistema Whangarei has discovered since 2013 when the charitable trust began in Otangarei, freely teaching children the violin, cello, double bass and viola.

"Most people consider these instruments are for other people who are more special, more clever or have more money, " Sam says. "When a child learns to play them it changes their view of what is possible." 

Sistema means 'The System' as in an international programme which began in Venezuela. It uses ensemble learning, "radical inclusion" and community involvement to flip the traditional way of learning music. 

"They start with a whisper instrument made of ply and play together. By the end of the first session they feel they can play something, and by the end of a term, they can."

120 children are enrolled with Sistema Whangarei and once enrolled they stay as long as they like. They can attend up to three two-hour classes each week, for which there is no charge. 

Programme Manager Michelle Jones says their kaupapa is about more than music. 

"We are about creating resilience and a healthy community. It's important the children always feel welcome, acknowledged and treasured so they want to continue." 

Sebastian White began learning the violin with Sistema five years ago and says it is one of his most favourite things to do. 

"I like the actual fun of it, the people, the place, the sound we create," says the 11-year-old Tikipunga High student when asked why he keeps attending. "And Michelle and Sam are so kind."
Students are encouraged to practice at home but Sam says to really do their best they each need a music stand, shoulder rest, clear files, pencils and a music bag. Donations of any of these items would be gratefully received.

Other ways to help are joining the team as a volunteer driver or with musicianship, helping out with afternoon tea or supporting the young students during the afternoon sessions. Contact us at Volunteering Northland to learn more.

Story by Leah Ruskin

17-09-2019
Governance workshops for community organisations: better governance, better community outcomes

"The cross-pollination of ideas and problem solving was really valuable”

Over 30 people attended the first of a series of 10 workshops on governance, initiated and hosted by Volunteering Northland, funded by The Northland Foundation, and led by Sandy Thompson from LEAD, Centre for Not-For-Profit Governance and Leadership. A wide range of community organisations were represented; some participants came as a board group, some came on their own; some participants were in management roles.

Diversity, as always, is a strength, providing a rich source of learning for many. “It was good to talk to people from different organisations. The cross-pollination of ideas and problem solving was really valuable”, said one participant. Another commented that “being in the room with so many volunteers from so many diverse organisations was inspiring.” Another found that the real value for her “was being with the other people. It made for really meaningful, really interesting discussion.”

Coming along as a Board group provides a different but no less valuable experience. The workshops provide opportunity for Board members to reflect on their practice together. “It brought up a lot of things for us as a Board. I think it will make a difference to how we work together”, said one participant.

Sandy encourages people in management roles to come along as well. Understanding the governance role helps managers to understand their roles and how the whole organisation functions. “It helps to reduce managers’ frustrations if they understand what Boards are and aren’t doing and why,” says Sandy.

Those in governance roles can expect to develop greater confidence, skills and knowledge over the course of workshops. They can expect to develop greater clarity about their roles and responsibilities. “When people know what their job is, what the purpose of a Board is, they are much more able to add value,” says Sandy. “If the Board is working well the whole organisation will function well, and when organisations are well led the outcomes for communities are better”.

The next workshop is on September 9th. It’s free and there are still places – make the most of this great opportunity. Go to https://volunteeringnorthland.nz/organisations/course/37 for all the information.

For those that can't make the sessions on site, Volunteering Northland working with CNorth are live-streaming the workshops so you can ask questions and intact 'live'. We recommend you still do this with your board and/or other community governance members. Not free on Monday? Check for the on-demand recorded session on our FaceBook Group for up-to-date info and alerts.
(We recommend everyone join the FaceBook Group)

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2854447794597427/?source_id=601739023313691

Helen Frances – Volunteer reporter for Volunteering Northland

 

03-09-2019
Brent Copeman about Volunteering; A Challenge with Purpose

Socialising, meeting people, contributing, feeling useful, a challenge; these were some of the ingredients Brent was looking for when he moved to the “big” city Whangarei, 3 years ago.

Brent's first challenge was to explore the maze of streets, widening his circle every day. Now he can find his way in the CBD, Okara, around the loop and most of Kensington without having to look up, which is handy because he is legally blind, not 100%.

He doesn't use any mobility aids, his natural sense of awareness helps him cross streets and use footpaths. Orange cones do pop-up, with parked and moving cars also using those same footpaths.

Next mission; Finding places to be, activities to start, people to meet, and things to do. A regular swim, the loop walk, and the Blind foundation monthly catch-up were all easy to find.

Doing something outside that circle was the next challenge;

Meeting with Volunteering Northland was great for suggestions. I decided to try out The Hospice Shop processing centre. They quickly found a role to suit me, doing the first sorting of donated goods. I obviously can't see the difference between 2 books or 2 shirts, but the difference between a book and a shirt is obvious”.

Staff and volunteers at Hospice made him feel welcome and appreciated. The first few weeks were a learning process for most.

In the beginning someone might say 'could you pick-up those boxes and put them over there', and would not explain where over there was, whereas now they will say put those boxes on the table next to the green cupboard. It didn't take long.

I look forward to volunteering at the shop each week, it has become a rhythm for me. It feels like a job and I have colleagues that appreciate me”.

Brent also is a member of WDC DAG (Disability Advisory Group), assists NRC with promotions and volunteers at Volunteering Northland researching data on the web. Having low vision isn't an issue when using the computer as all he needs is a big screen and a large font.

Brent's tip “If you feel you are stuck, stand up and look for something different outside your comfort zone. There are opportunities and there are ways to find them. Give it a chance and speak out before you give up. If one doesn't work, no problem, go for the next one”.

Story by Bart van der Meer, Volunteering Northland

06-08-2019
Ruakaka Dog Rescue - volunteers making a difference to the lives of dogs.

It might be one of the most satisfying volunteer experiences of your life.

There is something special about Ruakaka Dog Rescue. Staffed entirely by volunteers and supported by sponsorship and donations it represents the very best of community effort to improve the lives of dogs. Puppies and dogs flourishing in new permanent homes are the obvious success stories, but RDR have a broader focus. They recognise that dog welfare starts with knowledgeable and responsible dog ownership. They undertake public education programmes; they visit owners and provide advice on care and management of their dogs; they will assist with the provision of food, kennels, worm and flea treatments, and de-sexing. No blame, no shame; just helping people provide the best for their dogs. Since starting in 2014 RDR have homed about 400 dogs and puppies, and de-sexed 600.

There is no RDR facility. Dogs are fostered until a permanent home is found. In foster care dogs experience life with a family and other animals. For puppies this is the time of early socialisation and training; for dogs this is often the beginning of the restoration of trust, and for some just learning to be dogs; perhaps for the first time learning to play. “Fostering grows a better dog”, says volunteer Matt Pedersen. “They are better equipped to cope with the world”.

RDR needs volunteers. There is a wide range of ways that people can help, and the work is rewarding. “There is such an obvious need to improve animal welfare, and being part of that is good”, says volunteer Stacey Cordes. “I see puppies in their new homes and I think I helped to make that happen. But everything we do is limited by the number of people on the ground on the day”. Most urgently RDR need people to foster dogs and puppies.

Maria Gabriel and her partner Cedric Marshall have fostered about a dozen puppies for RDR over the last three years. They love seeing puppies adopted, but they enjoy the time they have with each one. “It’s so easy to love an animal that’s so innocent, and it’s really cool to see how different they are all are.” Cedric notes that whilst it’s a lot of fun, it’s also a serious commitment. They aim to have every puppy go to a permanent home with basic good manners and reliably house-trained. “Puppies need time and attention; you have to be adaptable; you’ve got to be able to be quickly puppy-proofed, and you need a lot of digital storage for all the photos you take”. Of course they have been tempted to keep one or two, but so far have resisted. “If you let them go you stay open to helping more puppies”.

Fostering puppies has been so fulfilling that Maria and Cedric are planning to expand their capability by building a large fenced area on their lifestyle block so they can take adult dogs. They are well supported by RDR. “They are in contact all the time. They cover all the costs. Any issues and it's straight to the vet, and the vet bills them. If you can’t take a puppy it’s never a hassle, and if something happens and you can’t keep one they’ll arrange for someone else to take it. They’re pretty amazing – very positive and non-judgemental.”

If you think fostering dogs in need might be for you, or you can offer some time to RDR in other ways, contact us at  Volunteering Northland (Bay of Islands Animal Rescue also look for foster homes).

It might be one of the most satisfying volunteer experiences of your life.

Story by Helen Frances volunteer reporter for Volunteering Northland

06-08-2019
We are proud of what we do at Mangawhai Tracks

“Over the last 18 months there have been over 6000 visits to the tracks. That’s the reward – seeing people use it”.

Eleven years ago Gordon Hosking, and a band of committed volunteers, started building tracks in Mangawhai.

They began at Mangawhai Community Park, where there was no access into the native bush, and put several tracks through. Then they formed themselves into the Mangawhai Tracks Charitable Trust, with Gordon leading as the Chair, and they got stuck into a 300 hectare DOC reserve in the Brynderwyns at King Road.

Walking Access NZ funded the bridge to get into the reserve, and Gordon and his team built 12 kilometres of track by hand, sometimes, says Gordon, “with forgiveness rather than permission”. About a dozen volunteers can be found every Friday morning at the reserve maintaining and improving the tracks. “We are very proud of what we do”, says Gordon. “Over the last 18 months there have been over 6000 visits to the tracks. That’s the reward – seeing people use it”.

The Tanekaha tracks project is coming to an end now and the group needs a new project. The first priority, currently going through the Resource Consent process, is a walkway around the harbour, from Back Bay to Pearson St. The team also has ambitions to get a 120 hectare block of native bush declared a Recreational Reserve by the Kaipara District Council. Gordon has an exciting vision for a mix of walking and mountain bike tracks.

Passionate about our native forests, Gordon is a tramper, and a keen mountain biker. Moving to Mangawhai from Rotorua meant leaving the fabulous trails of the Whakarewarewa Forest. But Gordon says that volunteering has more than compensated. “Working with a group of motivated volunteers is so rewarding. I get a lot of pleasure out of what I do and I try to spread that enthusiasm”. One way that Gordon does that is to provide leadership, but typically humble he is quick to acknowledge that “you can’t do it on your own. It’s a team thing”. People are always welcome to join. Contact VOlunteering Northland if you would like to be part of this proactive gang of track builders.

Story by Helen Frances volunteer reporter for Volunteering Northland

16-07-2019
Northlander Faye Grant loves her St John work

“At nearly 75 it’s nice to still be contributing and helping out . . . I think I’d be lost without it.”

When Faye Grant moved back to Whangarei from Auckland 25 years ago, taking a break from work, she really wanted to help others. Grant initially joined Age Concern, but the person she was looking after passed away, so she found out about St John through a lady called Margaret Suckling and joined St John’s Caring Caller programme.

She now wears three volunteer hats for St John. Grant has been a Caring Caller for 17 years and is now the district manager for Caring Caller in Whangarei. She is also the team leader for Friends of the Emergency Department at Bay of Islands hospital, Kawakawa, having been in that role just over a year. And, she’s also been a St John first responder/volunteer ambulance officer for eight years but is getting older so doesn’t go out much any more, but still enjoys doing things like children’s sports events.

Grant does her Caring Caller duties from home, spending around two hours per day ringing people, sorting interviews, matching Caring Caller volunteers and new clients together.

Every fortnight she goes into town to train new Caring Callers. Every Wednesday she goes into the hospital to serve a four hour shift, despite the hospital in Kawakawa being 40 minutes away from home. It involves sitting and talking to patients in the emergency department, serving meals, making cups of tea, grabbing a magazine, reassuring patients and their families and just keeping patients company while they endure a long wait in hospital.
Grant said she gets great satisfaction in just helping people and people realising help is there. “It’s very rewarding when you see the same patients in the hospital and they are very grateful to have you there,” she said.

“When you join St John they say you be come part of the St John family and my St John family has helped me so much through some very rough times, with the passing of my husband and health issues.

“You just get so involved and it’s immensely rewarding and it’s so good to be involved in some thing where you are really helping people and helping your community."

“At nearly 75 it’s nice to still be contributing and helping out . . . I think I’d be lost without it.”

Story by Staff Reporter (Northern Advocate)

01-07-2019
Hail to the Volunteers helping Pets

In the years Anna Crum has been volunteering at the Whangarei SPCA she’s fostered hundreds of kittens and numerous mother cats. It gives her enormous pleasure and she does it be cause of her love of animals. And it’s this dedication that has seen her win the “Fantastic Foster Family” award in the 2019 SPCA Purina Volunteer Awards, one of six awards given by SPCA and Purina during National Volunteer Week.

The awards celebrate the 5000 volunteers who give their time, talent and energy to SPCA across the 39 SPCA centres and 56 SPCA Op Shops.

Retail manager for SPCA Op Shop in Kamo and Whangarei Alison Fromont nominated Crum for the award, saying she has helped provide care for hundreds of kittens over the years while also volunteering at the SPCA Second Chance Store.

“Anna has dedicated herself to saving cats and kittens, literally saving the lives of hundreds of them. During the last kitten season, she fostered 114 kittens as well as some mother cats.
She is such a compassionate person,” Fromont said.

More than 120 nominations were received from SPCA staff and volunteers across the country for the awards. They were narrowed to a short list and judged by Andrea Midgen, CEO, SPCA and Jennifer Chappell, country manager, Purina. Midgen said that SPCA simply could not function with out the loyal contribution of the national network of volunteers, and partners such as Purina, who have sponsored these awards since 2016 and ensure all SPCA’s cats and dogs nation wide are fed with Purina One.

“Our dedicated volunteer base is the lifeblood of our organisation, many of whom have worked with us for several years. It is because of these incredible people that SPCA can continue to help tens of thousands of animals each year. Together with Purina, we want to acknowledge the difference these volunteers make to the lives of animals in need,” Midgen said.

“Our volunteers help with every single aspect of SPCA’s work – from cleaning and feeding animals, to helping with administration and fundraising. Our op shop volunteers receive, clean and merchandise donated goods to help raise vital funds.”

Story by Staff Reporter (The Northern Advocate)

01-07-2019
Donna knows the power of volunteering

“It gets you out there and meeting people... I would have found it much more difficult in Kaitaia if I hadn't volunteered.”

The benefits of volunteering go far beyond the sense of fulfilment to be gained from being an active member of a community, helping others and actively working for worthy causes.

The best outcome can be progressing from volunteer to paid employee.

So says Volunteering Northland, and Donna King is a perfect example of that.

Donna, originally from around the By of Plenty / central North Island area, has returned after 19 years in Australia, and is now happily ensconced in Kaitaia with her black Lab Pepper, who also made the trip from West Australia to the Far North (What did that cost? “You don't want to know”).

A former chartered accountant who had no desire to return to that occupation, Donna offered her services to bidders via Volunteering Northland's website, and soon found herself engaged with the SPCA and the Eco Centre, both in Kaitaia. Just weeks later she had paid jobs with both of them, in animal care and some computer work and as a funding and finance office respectively.

Together those positions, both of which benefit from her background and experience, employ her for 30 hours a week, and Donna is happy with that lot.

Volunteering Northland, she said, had been very helpful and actively supportive. She agreed that volunteering could be a very good place to start for someone who is looking to earn a living. Good references, showing an individual to be reliable, responsible and keen to work, could open a lot of doors, particularly when they did not have a great deal of previous employment, if any, to refer to. “It gets you out there and meeting people too”, she said.

“I would have found it much more difficult in Kaitaia if I hadn't volunteered. Even as an accountant by trade I probably would have struggled with no easily contactable references, so it was important that I had the chance to show what I could do.”

“This is me for now,” she added. “I have two jobs and I'm well settled.”

Both the Eco Centre and the SPCA would be always keen to enlist more volunteers however, and while there could be no guarantees of that evolving into paid employment, Donna was adamant that a great deal of satisfaction and benefit could be gained by active involvement in both.

Story by Peter Jackson (The Northland Age)

25-06-2019
Still giving back at 100 years old

You’re never too old to care and help others, and it’s something Whangarei woman Doreen Alexander knows well.

Aged 100, Doreen is still volunteering at the Hospice Shop in Whangarei and reckons it helps keep her young.

Besides, the sprightly centenarian jokes, if she wasn’t there to keep the rest of the people at the Hospice Shop in line chaos could ensue.

And that’s just what she does, as well as keeping every body happy, entertained and inspired, Hospice retail manager Kathy McMillan said.

“She’s just wonderful and has such a great sense of humour. The customers love her and we just love her being herself,” McMillan said.

“She’s great with the customers and she has her regulars who come in just to see her on Mondays. She’s also been a regular at the Growers Market on Saturday mornings — she’s such a great volunteer. Her contribution is immense and she’s such an inspiration.”

Doreen has been volunteering at the Hospice Shop since May 2001, but has been volunteering “ever since I gave up work”.

She started volunteering at Hospice after having a friend go through its palliative services and seeing the outstanding job the organisation does.

“I just wanted to give something back. I love coming here and it gives me something to do. It keeps me young,” Doreen said.

She was born in Whangarei, and has lived in the city all her life, and Doreen said the best part about volunteering is being able to give some thing back to her community.

She said she’s an example that you are never too old to do some thing for others and volunteering gives her a real sense of purpose and she’s sure others will get a lot out of giving up some of their own time to help people.

“One of my regular customers (who had made her a birthday cake previously) was going to make my 100th cake, but sadly she broke her wrist so couldn’t do it. That’s the appreciation you get.”

In these days when everybody seemed to be busy and rushing, Doreen said taking some time out to do some thing good would help people cope with their busy lives as volunteering gave so much pleasure to the volunteer and those they helped.

“I love it here. I just get such a nice feeling from helping out and knowing you’ve been able to make a contribution.”

Doreen turned 100 on Thursday and there will be two celebrations for her today at the Badminton Hall, in Whangarei and then Hospice will have its own celebration with her on Monday while the Whangarei Labour Party, of which Doreen is a life member, will hold a birthday bash for her on Thursday.

That’s a lot of birthday wishes, but Doreen’s looking forward to receiving them all.

Story by Mike Dinsdale (The Northern Advocate) 

24-06-2019
Mangawhai Museum "There’s so much here; so much to learn, so much to do.”

Volunteers are the life-blood of the Mangawhai Museum. Currently 88 volunteers fill a wide range of roles essential to the success of the museum, including reception, manning the café and the shop, taking care of the collection, maintaining the museum displays, looking after the grounds, fundraising, event management, research and writing, education, and genealogy.

Joy Wilson is a member of this community of volunteers. Joy started five years ago before the museum opened, first helping to clean collection items, and then moving into textile conservation. As the new collections database was set up she assisted with the numbering and descriptions of garments. In the museum display you can see the delicate stitching that is stabilising the fabric of an old dress. The storage rooms out the back are an exemplar of systematic organisation, all led and executed by volunteers.

Although Joy found learning about conservation and the technical aspects of caring for the collection hugely interesting, when the museum opened in 2014 Joy elected to take a role in reception. “I like the public contact and I think my back of house experience helps me do a better job front of house”.

“Retirement”, says Joy, “is not just the end of your working life; it is the beginning of the rest of your life. You have to do things, learn new things.” As a relative newcomer to Mangawhai volunteering at the museum has provided her with stimulation, new friends and a sense of fulfillment and belonging. “It is neat to be part of such a wonderful organisation. The people here are so professional, so organised. It makes you feel very proud. You meet people all the time; the volunteers become your friends. It’s a really good way of becoming part of the community. “

Mangawhai Museum is looking for new volunteers to help with front of house and Joy encourages others to join. “It’s an amazing place. There’s so much here; so much to learn, so much to do.”

Contact the museum administrator, Ana, on 09-431-4645, or go to the Volunteering Northland website.

Story by Helen Frances, volunteer reporter for Volunteering Northland

18-06-2019
No stopping Karen and Nick when it comes to rubbish! LOVE Whangarei Monthly Clean Ups and F.O.R.C.E

Karen Lee and Nicholas Connop are the two amazing people determined to clean up our city here in Whangārei. Love Whangārei Monthly Clean Up started with Karen in October 2017. It took a new direction in February 2018 partnering with Nicholas and has grown exponentially ever since. The parent group F.O.R.C.E. (For Our Real Clean Environment) is now a fully fledged charitable trust since December 2018. With strong community links and backing from the local council and Mayor, it can call itself a major player in Whangārei.

It seems there is no stopping these two when it comes to rubbish!

Every month the Love Whangārei Monthly Clean Up choose an area in Whangārei, rally their band of faithful volunteers and get out there and clean it up.

Sometimes they are called out to fix a local problem when it occurs. Yep, you're right Nicholas it’s not a bed. 

As you may have guessed from their user-friendly name the Love Whangārei Monthly Clean Up takes place once a month in Whangārei. Nick and Karen and a bunch of volunteers take to an area of Whangārei and give it a massive clean-up over a 2 hour period. During their November Clean Up in Raumanga they collected over two tonnes of rubbish. This included a full large skip, an additional huge pile of rubbish and a truck load of scrap metal. How impressive is that?

The original LWMCU started out with just a few people taking part a year or so ago. I went to one of the original Clean Ups in Onerahi and the group has since grown to a far-reaching and steady group of volunteers ready to keep their own community spaces clean of rubbish.

All the rubbish pickers are volunteers who have “liked” Nicholas and Karen’s Facebook page and then simply turn up on the day to help collect rubbish. The number of volunteers who turned up for the latest rubbish collection numbered 35 with an average of around 30 people for each Monthly Clean Up. Certificates were awarded and they had scrummy pizza from Hell as a thank you for helping. What more could you ask for ��?

The philosophy behind LWMCU and its parent charity F.O.R.C.E. is “To undertake, facilitate and inspire solutions to waste, to restore a real clean environment for future generations”. A bold and courageous statement which reflects the tag line of LWMCU – Supporting community for a clean environment. So far they are doing a brilliant job of getting Whangārei clean and green.

Without Karen and Nicholas’ initiative Whangārei would have over 9 tonnes more rubbish in the environment than it has now.

If you are interested in joining Nicholas and Karen’s team, find the next scheduled Love Whangārei Monthly Clean Up on their Facebook page or through www.volunteeringnorthland.nz Get your wellies and gloves on and be part of a brilliant initiative.


Story by Janette Morrison volunteer reporter for Volunteering Northland

16-06-2019
Migrant Shashi loves to chip in and help through Volunteering


"At the end of the day, I just love the feeling of having done something good and accomplishing something"

When Shashi Kariyawasam came to New Zealand from Sri Lanka in 2018, she'd never done any volunteering.

Within the first few months since she had arrived, the 29-year-old had volunteered at Special Olympics and been involved with Multicultural Whangarei for a re-settlement programme at the Whangarei Migrant Centre.

“I worked as a coordinator at the Special Olympics, so I would go to trainings and practices and help cheer up the athletes and help them”. she said. “I also worked at the Migrant Centre on a new project, helping to empower new migrants gain employment”.

Having left Sri Lanka to get a better education, Shashi fell into volunteering through her course at NorthTec. “On the first day at NorthTec they dragged us to the Volunteering Northland Centre and told us we could volunteer as a firefighter, we could cook, garden”.

She said she loves volunteering for the sense of satisfaction she gets out of helping people. “At the end of the day, I just love the feeling of having done something good and accomplishing something”. Whenever they (the migrants) see me now they’re excited to see me and I'm like 'yay, somebody knows me',” she said. But volunteering has served another purpose for Shashi – making friends and meeting people. “Earlier I didn't know anyone here, and now they all know me so that's really good”.

Continuing her volunteering efforts throughout the year, Shashi has since been helping Volunteering Northland at community events and both her and her husband Manoj have enjoyed volunteer face-painting at the Pasifika Fusion Festival in Whangarei. Other volunteer roles included being an Area Coordinator for Pink Ribbon Street Appeal and supporting Cancer Society – Relay for Life. 

During National Volunteer week in 2018, the Northern Advocate published a small piece on Shashi's volunteering experience. Whangarei South Rotary's Club members saw the article and immediately reached out to Shashi. Shashi is now continuing the good work of Rotary International as one of South Rotary Whangarei's newest members. Rotary's aim is to "make a difference locally and globally" and club members are very active in supporting community initiatives. Shashi's efforts in the Whangarei community are really making a difference.

Story By: Northern Advocate/Volunteering Northland

22-05-2019
Meeting People and Gaining Connections

“I am passionate about this role and I really enjoy helping in the community”

Vaida Sirutyte-Hughes did a great job of keeping herself busy as a new arrival to NZ in late 2017. With her kiwi husband and two sons, (a preschooler and a 20 year old), there was a house to renovate, but most importantly a desire to get out and meet new people, learn new skills and to get a job.

Vaida is originally from Lithuania, but previous to arriving in NZ she worked in London for 15 years. The first step to meeting people was to head to Multicultural Whangarei where she was introduced to Volunteering Northland. Volunteering with the team, Vaida helped administer a project for National Volunteer Week 2018 working with the local business community. In 2018, while also volunteering at the Quarry Arts Centre in their accounts department, Vaida completed a 20 week Smart Step to Business Course through Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, and a Professional Speaking course through Multicultural Whangarei and Speech NZ.

While volunteering with Volunteering Northland, Vaida said she was interested in the Emergency Services and the work of the local police. Trish from Volunteering Northland explained all the voluntary emergency service roles including the Fire Service, St John and the city CCTV operators. Another volunteer role keeping the community safe is Whangarei Community Patrol.

Whangarei Community Patrol act as eyes and ears for the police by patrolling residential, business and industrial areas around the city, Vaida is now one of the regulars, heading out once a month on patrol on either a Friday or Saturday night from 10pm to 1am.

Not stopping there, Vaida mentions “I must have explained to Community Patrol that my background is in accounts so they have asked me to also come on board as their treasurer”.

Vaida has now secured a full-time job (on a temporary contract) and continues volunteering with Whangarei Community Patrol. “I am passionate about this role and I really enjoy helping in the community”

“I am learning all the time volunteering, especially picking up Kiwi phrases. I am meeting lovely people and making new connections. I am sure it has contributed to me securing a job as I have also gained Kiwi references and local knowledge”

Story by Trish Clarke (Volunteering Northland)

06-05-2019
"Your volunteering efforts never go unnoticed" says deputy Whangārei mayor Sharon Morgan


FROM THE MAYORS DESK

Volunteering takes many shapes and forms. The offering of advice, the selfless giving of your experience, your time, or your energy. You may be a volunteer already, without even realising it!

In our community, I'm always heartened by the number of volunteers who raise their hands on a daily basis.

From my observations, we have many unsung heroes in our District who put themselves forward without any expectation of acknowledgement or reward.

I'd like to take a moment to tell you all how much your donations of time, energy and care mean to us all, you are more important than you may realise.

Have you ever offered to help a fellow school parent with taking their child to an after-school activity? That's volunteering.

Have you ever helped your elderly neighbour take their rubbish out? That's volunteering.

Have you ever helped a stranger carry something heavy to their car? Stepped in to offer directions to a lost tourist? Given someone a lift, served on the PTA, or helped your colleague with their workload?

These may not seem like the actions of a volunteer – but this is where it all starts. These small acts of selfless behaviour cause larger ripples of goodwill to flow out into our community.

My personal experiences with volunteers in my local community over the past two years have been absolutely overwhelming.

The Maungatapere First World War Memorial Church is a far cry now from how it looked just two years ago. This is a volunteer project that sits particularly close to my heart, as I have been involved in some capacity from the very beginning.

The Lions Club of Mangakahia chose to restore this church as their Lions International Centennial Year Project, but they had no idea how it would bring the entire community together.

Volunteers came from every corner, wanting to donate their time and skills into renovating this valuable piece of history; and the results are simply amazing.

Even now, the volunteers are continuing to add the "final touches", including the stitching of nearly 100 heritage-design tapestry cushions in keeping with the history of the building.

Of course, the Maungatapere Church is just an example of what is happening throughout our District, all the time.

The old saying "where there's a will, there's a way" is so apt. I really believe Northland has some of the strongest willed people in New Zealand!

When there's something that needs doing – rubbish clean-up days, community food gardens, community hall renovations or school working bees – Northlanders will just roll up our sleeves and muck in.

I want to say a big thank you to all of the wonderful people who take time out of their own busy lives to give back to our community.

You may not always get the recognition you deserve, but please know that your efforts never go unnoticed.

I know I speak on behalf of every community organisation when I say - you are invaluable.

Ngā mihi nui (kind regards)

* Sharon Morgan, deputy mayor of Whangārei, is filling in for mayor Sheryl Mai this week.

Article republished with permission, Northern Advocate 15 April 2019

 

17-04-2019
Could you be a Lifesaver? Merrin's Story

Whilst you read this you may find yourself thinking, ‘That could be me’. If you’re inspired by Merrin, get in touch with St John. There are many ways you can volunteer with them – from becoming part of the front-line crew in an ambulance to attending events as a First Responder.

Merrin Townley is on most days a quiet, shy resident of Russell, Bay of Islands. But twice a week, as she puts on her St John uniform, she metamorphosises into Merrin, passionate, knowledgeable Operational Volunteer for St John. “Out there, making a difference.” Merrin says.

Merrin’s role

Merrin is a First Responder. She assists the Lead Officer who is either a Paramedic or EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). Her role involves finding out the patients’ medical histories, taking and recording ‘vitals’ (blood pressure, temperature) and driving the ambulance. She volunteers for 2 shifts a week, 6am - 6pm and 6pm – 6am. Merrin does not have to physically be in the St John Station for this time, she has a pager and responds from home. When the pager goes off she dons her uniform and can be at the station in 6-8 minutes.

Why did Merrin volunteer?

With her grown up children having ‘fledged’ 6 years ago Merrin and her partner moved to Russell where they have been for three years now. It had been a quiet first winter, and Merrin didn’t know a soul. She felt she wanted to ‘become part of the community in order to help and meet people’.

When she was growing up her ambition was to be a nurse, however life got in the way (as it often does) and her plans changed. Upon reaching the age of 50 Merrin was persuaded by a friend that the time was right to apply for nursing.

She began her application, but in her own words, she ‘chickened out’. The move to Russell was the kickstart she needed to ‘make her dream come true’ and she took the bold step of volunteering for St John. After an interview which was a friendly, welcoming chat she walked away feeling really good about it and the people she would be working with.

Merrin’s volunteering role began with observation shifts. It was then she knew that ‘this is what I was meant to do’. She loved it from the beginning, being part of a team, helping the community, meeting people and learning, learning, learning. At first she was worried – it had been a long time since school. But with support from her mentor and the rest of the ‘St John family’ she has successfully completed her ORM (Operational Risk Management), First Aid, Driver training and First Responder course.

What does Merrin get out of giving her time voluntarily?

Merrin absolutely loves her volunteer work, she shines with enthusiasm and confidence when explaining what she does and her response to this was priceless. She described it as the feeling she had inside when a patient – often scared, worried and in pain - gave her hand a squeeze in gratitude, or she saw the look in their eye when she reassured them, or the heartfelt hug she received from someone unable to express thanks verbally. It was making a little bit of difference to vulnerable people, just being there for them. She never thought in a million years that she was capable of doing this and she gets back tenfold by just giving up a few hours of her time.

Merrin said the opportunities within St John are incredible. All the training is paid for. She has just embarked upon an EMT qualification which she is thoroughly enjoying. Merrin believes that life experience has given her compassion and understanding, age is not a barrier.

After every job there is a debrief during which she can speak freely with her partner. As a ‘newbie’ she has never felt judged and realises there are no ‘silly questions’. Merrin has not yet attended a major cardiac arrest or car accident and confesses that the first time she tried to take a pulse she was concentrating so hard that she found it very difficult. But practise makes everything easier and Merrin has now even worked a few shifts at Kawakawa when needed there.

Merrin summed up her volunteering experience like this: “It’s become my passion, I love it. Everyone at the station is willing to give their time to help you as a volunteer, you are never alone, and it is such a rewarding thing to do. The closest ambulance station would be Kawakawa if it were not for Russell, so volunteers are doing this for the community."

- Diana Smith (Volunteer reporter at Volunteering Northland)

06-03-2019
Volunteering at Artbeat 2019

It really was an Artbeat festival full of sound and colour. And how wonderful it was to be part of it all. My special jobs on Saturday, 3 February was to read out loud books to kids of all ages and then to help plan and execute the pirate’s treasure hunt. What could be more exciting?

The Artbeat Festival is an annual event held by Creative Northland in the Cafler Park near the local Whangarei library. The day dawned bright and cheerful and promised to be not too hot and not too cold with no rain forecast at all. And it was all that and more, with tantalising aromas of food to be bought and coffee and teas to be sampled.

And kids, so many of them everywhere enjoying the sounds and sights. So much for them to participate in. Hundreds, literally hundreds of children were getting their faces painted with the the queue nearly circled the block. They could also try their hands at carving stone, making paper, painting on spinning wheels, making the hugest bubbles I had ever seen and of course listening to my “dulcet” tones reading The Cat in the Hat books to any that wanted to listen.

We are not sure, but I had a sneaky feeling that the kids were watching us plan out the treasure hunt because their brilliance at finding the clues was superb. They found all the clues in record time and were soon sharing out the spoils of treasure. Not gold but lollies. A treat for everyone. I even managed to snaffle one or two away for later.

Crafts in one corner set the scene for me being a crochet fanatic. I loved seeing the creativity coming alive. Made me want to get home and get my own crochet out. Paintings, pottery, knitting, eco friendly gear, bags, aprons, tee-shirts, trousers, calendars, pin holders, necklaces and bracelets. The list is endless and such a joy to see so many creative people come to show off their wares.

I didn’t really get to hear many of the sounds and sights of the stage, but by the size of the crowd watching from the grassy incline it seemed to being very well received. I did notice belly dancers, choirs and out back I managed to spy a rapper or two. An MC with boundless energy was keeping the audience up to date with what was going on.

Food in another corner of the park. The smells making my mouth water every time I had to walk past. Rather special were the Waka Burgers I can’t really explain how extra special these burgers are but if you ever get to try one go for it, you won’t be disappointed. There was also a vast variety of foods you could buy: fresh fruit ice blocks, Chinese, Indian you name it and even a man singing his products so we would buy his baklava. Oh, and the doughnuts, bring extra money to next year’s event so you can buy one. Yummo.

It was a long day, from 7am to 4pm. But the work was totally rewarding, and not at all stressful (that was left to the well oiled organising team). They did very very well and need a great big pat on the back. I will definitely be back next year volunteering at ArtBeat. I had as they say; a ball doing my bit.

- Janette Morrison

03-03-2019
A Boost to Reduce Pests

A boost in funding for Parihaka Community Landcare by both Whangarei District Council and Northland Regional Council goes a long way to support the conservation work of this community group which is leading the way protecting and promoting native biodiversity in the outstanding forest of Parihaka.

Dr. Dai Morgan from Applied and Environmental Sciences at Northtec has been leading this voluntary project. “Whangarei is the best city in New Zealand to live in. The harbour is flanked by significant forests with a lot going on ecologically. However, there is also a significant opportunity to enhance our native biodiversity through eradicating pest mammals across the entire city. With this additional funding available, we need more volunteers and residents to help support the project”

Backyard Trappers Needed
With the success of the NRC 'Biofund' there are limited free rat and possum traps for anyone that lives adjacent to Parihaka in order to support the conservation work being done within the forest (see picture for the trapping area). Therefore, if you reside in this area (i.e. within 100m or so of the bush) and would like to maintain a trap all you need to do is to check and clear your trap periodically and record your captures.

Pest Control to boost your fitness
WDC is providing funding to keep up the pest control until 2019. With additional funding to increase the area by 30 hectares, it will make the total amount of Parihaka under management to about 100 hectares. Dai Morgan says that the combined area of all Parihaka land parcels is 389 ha. “We are chipping away at it”.

To keep the project manageable and not push the existing volunteer base too much, Dai is seeking to recruit new volunteers to help with regular bait fills, and also help set up the new funded area. Trish Clarke from Volunteering Northland went along recently to one of the Sunday morning monthly bail fills. “I followed the Ross Track downhill but those that want more of an intrepid adventure can head off the established tracks and have more of a robust workout. It was also great to also see a variety of age groups involved”. She also suggests this is a good volunteer opportunity for people to feel connected to the community and landscape without a huge time commitment.

Dai welcomes people to get in touch if they can help, or if they know someone who might like to get involved. Make contact via Volunteering Northland info@volunteeringnorthland.nz or check out the FaceBook page “Parihaka Community Landcare”

15-08-2018
Diana Digs in with Sea Cleaners

It’s Tuesday, it’s 8 am down at Opua Marina, and I have easily spotted Tracy in the large Sea Cleaners Ute, ready to go collecting rubbish from the shore thus preventing it entering (or returning to) the sea.

With recycling and sea pollution a big issue in the news world-wide, this was my opportunity to see one way in which New Zealand was tackling this challenge. I’d volunteered to accompany Tracy on her daily job of scouring secluded shorelines. Tracy is Bay of Islands born and bred and now works for Sea Cleaners, a charitable trust based in Auckland whose vision statement is:

‘To preserve the New Zealand coastline for the benefit of marine life and enjoyment for all users.’

Tracy’s Sea Cleaners patch ranges from Warkworth up to the top of the far north, a huge stretch of coastline. It wasn’t until later that I realised just how enormous the task ahead of her really is.

She was so friendly and funny I knew immediately that however hard the work was we’d have a good day. Equipped with borrowed gummies and gloves and accompanied by Paul, a regular volunteer, we set out to clean up Skudders Beach. No Sea Cleaners boat necessary today as the high tide was exceptionally low and a boat wouldn’t be much use in the mangroves.

Like a kid on a school trip I ate my lunch as soon as we arrived (which was just as well considering how disgustingly mucky I was about to get!). Then, tucking spare rubbish bags in her waistband, Tracy led the way. Paul definitely had a knack for this job – before he’d gone more than a couple of paces, he scooped up, of all things, an abandoned garden gnome and an alarm clock. We all soon amassed a treasure trove of rubbish along with heaps of more mundane bottles and plastic waste. As we filled more and more sacks Tracy advised focussing on plastics, so the rusty tractor (yes, really) and the dilapidated boat had to stay for another day.

Clambering through the tangled web of mangrove trunks and spindly branches, tugging rubbish from thick mud and then hauling our loads back to the truck wasn’t easy. A short water break was essential, then back to business. Refreshed, we retraced our (sinking) steps through the pungent mangrove, wads of spare bags now tucked in my gummies. I was honestly pretty appalled by the amount and variety of rubbish either washed in by the tide or abandoned from the shore.

33 large blue sacks of rubbish (plus a plastic garden chair, two car tyres, a starter motor and several lengths of hose) had to be hoisted into the back of the ute. It took 2 trips to the transfer station to offload it all. Both Tracy and Paul agreed it had been a tough day but although we were all coated in mud, smelling pretty rank and at least one of us had a leaky wellie full of black goo (ok, it was me!) it was totally satisfying to have cleared so much from that section of the shore. Countering that was the knowledge that we could return the next day and probably collect just as much again. I’m back home now, looking like a Jackson Pollock mud splatter, pretty much worn out, but left pondering the massive challenge of littering and how to deal with it.

Fortunately, the local beaches here are regularly cleaned, and many people pick up litter as they walk (or actually don’t drop it in the first place) – our beaches are fairly pristine as a result, but Sea Cleaners is another level. Getting into difficult to reach areas where debris becomes trapped or washed out to sea in the next tide is a never-ending task which people like Tracy tackle in incredibly cheerful fashion day after day.

If volunteering to help collect litter which could, if left, ultimately contaminate the New Zealand coastline and sea, sounds like something you could do, I would highly recommend dropping Volunteering Northland or Sea Cleaners an email. Just take your wellies and be prepared for some hard work!

- Volunteer reporter, Diana Smith

15-08-2018
Governance Workshops for Community Organisations

Story by Cathy Robinson attending the workshop in Whangarei

“We really appreciate and value these opportunities to up-skill and strengthen our organisations at a price not-for-profits can afford” was one of many participant comments Volunteering Northland received at their May “Governance that Adds Value” workshop.

As a new volunteer trust board member I was one of 56 attendees from 24 organisations at the Whangarei workshop. As a new trustee it provided me with a great grounding in governance, and I saw more experienced trustees find value in it as well. We enjoyed a well-paced day of information presentations interspersed with practical exercises and discussion. Participant feedback found the workshop “well presented with good structure and examples and appropriate exercises” and a “great mixture of theory and practical discussions.” Plus the workshop work was supported by the vitally important and regular provision of simple and tasty food to maintain energy and allow breaks to digest new knowledge and network.

This workshop covers the basics of governance for non-profit organisations: what governance is, why it is needed, and the different forms it may take, including what good governance looks like and how a board can be effective at adding value to the organisation. In short: governance what, why and how is explained, so those volunteering their time on a board can ensure they guide their community organisation to optimum success and make our communities the thriving places we want them to be.

I agreed with the participants who praised facilitator Sandy Thompson, Director of LEAD: Centre for Non Profit Leadership. Feedback said “I enjoyed the presenter; her approach was on point, entertaining and interesting” and “I found the content interesting and relevant, especially the 'how to' tips and tools.” Sandy knew her subject and many helpful tips came out of questions and discussions throughout the day. She provided handouts on the discussions, including tools for governance self-assessment and guides on key responsibilities and functions of boards. Some of my favourite tips were about what makes a good meeting and a productive agenda structure.

Whether a newcomer to the work, or an old hand, anyone on the board of a community organisation could learn from Volunteering Northland’s series of governance workshops.

Participants need to contribute only about 10% of the workshop costs due to group discounts and funding. Young adult participation is also encouraged with organisations able to bring another participant free of charge if they are a young adult involved in their organisation who would benefit from this professional development. Funding has been provided for the first three workshops by Oxford Sports Trust and Volunteering Northland is in the process of applying for further funding to organise more workshops around Northland.

The “Governance that Adds Value” workshop will be repeated in the Dargaville area on Monday the 6th of August and in Whangarei on Thursday the 23rd of August and possibly further north later in the year. Other planned workshops for 2018 include “Leading a Board” for chairs, and chairs to be and “Leading Organisations” for chairs and managers. More information is available from
https://volunteeringnorthland.nz/organisations/course.

15-06-2018
Comprehensive First Aid Training

Story by Diana Smith attending the First Aid Training in Kaikohe, May 2018

If it were up to me, Triple One Care First Aid courses would be awarded a Triple A Star badge to sew on its sleeve! That's what I would award Simon after attending his two day First Aid in the Workplace course.

Simon's key message is, in the words of Lord Baden Powell, founder of the Scouting movement, 'Be Prepared'. Be prepared for an emergency with up-to-date first aid skills and fit for purpose resources. Many of us on the course were surprised to discover that quite a lot we thought we knew had changed. No more improvisation!

In: Organised Emergency Plan with location GPS coordinates, nearest defibrillator and other relevant info, Out: mad panic to find phone numbers, guessing how far along the Karikari peninsula you are, frantic search for defibrillators...

In: CPR now 30 quick and firm compressions to 2 breaths, Out: Compressions in time to 'Staying Alive, uh, uh, uh, uh ... ( too slow) and so much more.

Instantly, Simon made us feel at ease with his sense of fun and friendly banter. He cleverly introduced an element of competition and as we were teamed up randomly we soon got to know each other. We were encouraged to learn by our mistakes with a healthy dollop of good humour thrown in.

A combination of Simon's paramedic experiences, real life video footage, demonstrations and hands on activities kept things lively. We were actively involved in our learning and time just flew by. When he related incidents he'd attended he held us in the palm of his hand, none of the fidgeting, coughing or surreptitious phone checking that often occurs on courses. We liked and respected Simon, he liked and respected us. We wanted to learn. We did!

We learnt how to identify, prioritise and treat life threatening injuries. We practised CPR on adult, child and infant size dolls, and used something that I'd seen on TV programmes but not in real life, a defibrillator. What an amazing piece of tech, it actually speaks and tells you what to do! 'I have a defibrillator and I'm not afraid to use it' (Well, I haven't actually got one, but I know where the nearest one is now, thanks to my phone app AED)

As with all courses there was assessment, but Simon made this completely non-threatening - we marked each other using guidelines from our booklets. I loved acting out the scenarios he gave us. One team had to identify and treat the injuries of a man in a car 'accident'. Apologies to Simon's colleague who was the 'casualty', but he was a large man, stuck in a small car! How to get him out to treat him without a tin opener or crane?! Team Adele scored many points for asking the just about 'conscious' victim to get out of the vehicle by himself. Seems obvious? But maybe not in a stressful situation.

I returned home with red marker pen 'wounds' and 'burns' up my arms and reflected on how much I didn't know, or had forgotten, before the course. I even know how to hold a fire extinguisher properly (horizontally to mix the powder and compressed air). That evening I added two apps to my phone. GoodSam, a community of lifesavers - doctors, nurses, paramedics in our neighbourhood we can call in an emergency, and an AED app which maps defibrillators in your area. I would wholeheartedly recommend attending a Triple One Care First Aid course, not only do I now own an Israeli roller bandage and packs of burn gel, but I am armed with the confidence and knowledge that if faced with a life threatening injury I would be able to administer first aid and pass on vital info to the Emergency services.

Volunteer Northland organises these training sessions which are partially funded by Foundation North and a number of gaming trusts. Training is available for volunteer and paid staff from non-profit organisations in Northland. First Aid trained staff in the work place reduces pressure on St John and the fire service. Amazingly, 30% of Fire Service call outs are medical calls. So give Simon a call, get yourself 'prepared' , learn in a fun way and who knows, you may one day save a life.

Breaking news! (Fortunately just breaking news, not breaking bones!)
Jodele, manager of a busy local cafe, had been on our course and just two days later was called upon to administer First Aid, not once but twice! First up was Haki, a Cafe Assistant, who slipped whilst carrying a hot water urn. Jodele treated burns to his leg using burn gel pads provided by Simon, glad wrap and a calm manner (also, in a way, provided by Simon!) She said that she was glad she had done the course and was able to help. Nurses and the doctor at Whangarei hospital praised Jodele's action, telling her she had done such a good job that they thought paramedics had treated the burns. Haki was soon back to work with no scarring. Then, a couple of days later, Jodele was again called into action when another staff member slipped and fell hurting her hip, shoulder, neck and elbow. Jodele checked her over then sat with her until they were both certain there was no need for further treatment. Coincidentally, the patient had also attended the same first aid course! For the second time that week, Jodele had been "caring and took control." On both occasions Jodele was able to phone Simon who confirmed that she had done the right thing.

 

08-05-2018
Volunteering Provides Pathway to Paid Work

Whangarei migrants Vinkal Gaur and Astrid Kelly found volunteering helped them successfully find paid work, assisted by an employment program at Multicultural Whangarei.

International Northtec student Vinkal Guar came to New Zealand in 2017 to study a Bachelor Degree in Sport and Recreation. He wanted to build networks and connected with Multicultural Whangarei and Volunteering Northland through the Northtec International Student orientation. He also applied for advertised jobs but found the lack of response frustrating, plus he really wanted to work in the sports industry.
“I applied for jobs in the supermarket,” he says, “but I never heard back from anyone.”

As part of the Multicultural Whangarei employment program he volunteered to lead Yoga classes. This led to a referral to the Whangarei Aquatic Centre, which resulted in a few weeks working as a volunteer there until he was offered a paying job.

“I have learned a lot, and I continue to learn.” Gaur says of his six months working as a group fitness instructor. He says his job wasn’t advertised, and his hours have increased since he started work.
“This is the ideal job for me in my current situation” he says, “it is an amazing place to work… and it is very satisfying.”

Migrant Astrid Kelly had a similar experience after migrating to New Zealand from the Philippines to join her kiwi husband. By late 2016 she had a visa allowing work and through her own research into job searching she learned volunteering could help in finding paid work.
“Volunteering can give you exposure… it can be a stepping stone to work,” she says.
Like Gaur, she had no success in applying for advertised jobs but worked as a volunteer through a Multicultural Whangarei employment program and joining Volunteering Northland.
“My first volunteering in administration was for Plunket,” says Kelly. She was also a volunteer event photographer for Multicultural Whangarei.

She used these local work experiences and references when applying for paid work as her other references were from the Philippines. In 2017 she applied for a job suited to her skills at Literacy Whangarei, a vacancy she discovered through her Multicultural Whangarei network. She began work as a Literacy Whangarei administrator in May.
“Volunteering is good for foreigners to know how it works here in New Zealand,” Kelly says about work experience and the job application process.
Multicultural Whangarei Centre Manager Jessie Manney agrees. “Lots of New Zealand employers want local experience” she says. “And we have our own volunteer program here… I can give a reference when someone has volunteered for us.”

As well as gaining local work experience and references, Manney has found
volunteering helps migrants find work through developing networks which give them access to more opportunities. It also helps migrants get to know their community and to learn how things are done in New Zealand.
As a migrant herself Canadian Manney has experienced this and says there are a lot of small things to learn about a new country, “Here it is ‘A4’ and I never heard that before,” she says of standard A4 sized paper, “We call it ‘letter size’.”

She has observed that being a successful volunteer helps newcomers build confidence as well as providing opportunities to practice language skills in a work setting, all of which help with success in getting paid work.

- Cathy Robinson

12-04-2018
Bay Beach Clean

All ready for the off at 8.45 am: bag packed ready (sun cream- check, sunnies - check, hat - check, rubbish bags, gardening gloves - check errr, rubbish bags, gardening gloves?! ) They're packed because it's Bay Beach Clean. Bay Beach Clean is a group of volunteers who meet alternate Sunday mornings to collect rubbish from Waitangi to Te Haumi. There is an 'A' team and a 'B' team who start at different ends of the Bay and meet in the middle at Alongside Restaurant in Paihia for a generous free coffee and chat afterwards. 

John and I have only taken part three times so far. We were a little bit surprised the first time when we realised  that  there were only three of us. We checked the time and place, 'B' team, 9.00 by the boat ramp at Te Haumi. We looked around at dog walkers and ramblers wondering if they were part of the team, but no, so the three of us got on with it. With some advice from the other volunteer we collected not only glass, cans, paper etc but treated wood that can leak chemicals into the sea. Amazingly the most common debris washed up on the shore was pegs. Between us we also found an assortment of woolly hats, socks and  undies (possibly from faraway peg-less washing lines!)

The next time we took extra collection bags with us thinking that there may be detritus from Christmas and New Year's Eve revels. Pleasingly the good folk of the Bay had mostly cleaned up after themselves (or the council had got there first!) 

It's a really nice way to start the day.  We have lots of cheerful chats with people we meet along the way, a few shout outs from well wishers, a lovely coffee from Alongside, a warm feeling inside and best of all we made friends with another Bay Beach Clean volunteer. Sadly, we haven't managed to meet up with any A team volunteers yet, we must keep missing each other. 

Check the Bay Beach Clean website for dates and times to help keep the bay beautiful.
http://www.baybushaction.org.nz/BayBeachClean

 - Diana Smith

21-02-2018
Friends of Waitangi

It was a call for help from the Friends of Waitangi which led my husband John and I to volunteer to support the team behind the scenes at the Waitangi Treaty Commemoration celebrations. 


Ngā Hapū o Ngāpuhi supported by Waitangi National Trust were going to be setting up food and beverage stations and providing refreshments for the public attending pōwhiris for the Governor General and the Prime Minister.  As they were also hosting buffets for the Governor and Prime Minister on two consecutive days they were asking for volunteers to lend a helping hand with preparation, cooking and clean up afterwards. 

We turned up at 8 am and were pretty amazed at the buzz of activity already in place.  Security seemed to be high, and after a bit of to and fro-ing on radios we made our way to the Hobson building to meet Rowena and her team. John quickly made himself useful in the kitchen - he buttered and jammed a mountain of bread alongside a very welcoming group of women who were busy preparing bright orange crayfish, huge crates of raw fish in coconut milk, moist dark chocolate steamed cake, platters of fresh fruit, pipis piled high and smoked fish amongst many other sweet and savoury dishes for the buffets. 

Meanwhile I was busy in the marquee setting up tables, laying places and making new friends! Rowena, the aunties and the rest of the team, including young staff from the Waitangi cafe, the Whare Waka, were probably under pressure, but still found the time to be patient with us newbies and I felt very privileged to be a part of this occasion. There were three other volunteers and we pitched in wherever necessary. As the morning rolled on we drew near to our 11.00 deadline. This was when the pōwhiri for Jacinda Ardern was due to finish and her party of guests would be making their way over for 'morning tea'. 

The  marquee was undergoing transformation into a beautiful dining space. The sides of the tent had been adorned with wall hangings and tapestries and now gorgeous flower decorations (courtesy of the 'aunties') were displayed on the tables dotted amongst an abundance of amazing kai, spectacular in colour and variety. Morning tea? This was more like breakfast, lunch and dinner combined! 

We had reached that time when there was nothing else to do until the guests arrived, so we popped out to watch the guests being greeted by the welcoming Haka, and then listened to speeches. This was the first time a woman had been accepted to speak at the Pōwhiri, and it felt like an historic occasion. The atmosphere was traditional yet super friendly.  Jacinda Ardern was obviously well respected, doubly so, not only for appearing at the Treaty Grounds but for her open humility. 

The day was heating up, the sky was blue, the Navy were rehearsing for their big day on Tuesday, I was unbelievably happy to be there. Once the guests arrived and were seated we served steaming hot hangi, squeezing the dishes in like jigsaw puzzle pieces as the tables were so full of food. Not for long though, the Powhiri appeared to have worked up some appetites as we were soon clearing away huge piles of empty plates.   We took them to John and Graham who were recycling and stacking everything to be magically washed by the cafe staff ready for the next buffet at 2.00 pm. As we worked many people thanked us, complimenting the food and appreciating the hard work. The marquee was filled with the sound of chatter and laughter, and some intense networking! 

The wonderful Ngā Hapū o Ngāpuhi team had been extremely busy for many days with preparation; the scale of organisation was incredible especially as they were feeding the public too. Their philosophy was that we were all special guests, today was for everyone and their unflaunted aim was to feed everyone and offer their warm hospitality to all. 

Later in the afternoon we gathered together as the Prime Minister wanted to meet the workers to say thank you. Everyone was pretty excited as Jacinda and her partner came over, spoke to us all and happily took part in the many 'selfies' and photo opps. What a day! John and I made our way home to showers and to put our feet up knowing that we had been a very, very small part of a very special occasion. I had learnt a lot about New Zealand's past and present. Thank you Rowena and the rest of the team, we'll always remember this day fondly. 

-Diana Smith
 

19-02-2018
ASB Bank adds a Sparkle this Christmas

For the third Christmas running, staff from ASB Bank Commercial and Rural teams have been decking out the Selwyn Park Village and Rest-home with Christmas decorations.

Recently 8 staff members headed up to Maunu with an 8.30am start, decorating the large Christmas trees at the village.

As part of Volunteering Northland's Employee or Team Volunteering program, this initiative is about making lasting connections between corporate and non-profit organisations.

Senior Commercial Manager at ASB Bank Fiona Morgan is also the Chair at Volunteering Northland. She says all the staff at ASB Bank love the chance to help with the Christmas decorations. “With a group of us working together we can get this done quite quickly around our work commitments and then of course Selwyn Village provides us with a delicious morning tea”. Like most corporate organisations, staff love the chance to do something meaningful for other groups in the community.

During National Volunteering Week in June this year, staff from ASB Branches in Whangarei and Kaitaia also sent out teams volunteering. Part of a garden clean-up project was tackled at CCS Disability Action in Kamo, and Kaitaia Hospice Shop had a team helping out sorting donations.

Trish Clarke from Volunteering Northland says "Employee volunteer programmes provide benefits for organisations, individuals, community groups and wider society. Projects broaden a team’s outlook, extends thinking beyond a work desk and is generally fun in the process. Business skills applied to community projects add capacity and new ideas".
Try it in 2018!

18-12-2017
Growing a Strong Connection

The Falls Estate and The Papermill – Growing a strong connection

Staff and residents of the Falls Estate jumped at the chance offered by Volunteering Northland to support The Papermill by tending to their gardens.

Recently two of the Falls Estate gardening team , Chris Allen and Sam Camocamo, the Village Manager, Ros Martin and a resident Ken Barber, spent a morning pulling weeds and chopping back overgrown plants in readiness for planting gardens which will be colourful and vibrant, but easier to care for.

Village Manager, Ros Martin says that she sees the gardening effort as a wonderful opportunity to create a lasting connection between the Falls Estate Village and the Papermill. “Many of our residents have been keen gardeners and love the chance to do something meaningful and special for a group of people in the community who are achieving to their highest ability,” she said.

“We anticipate that we will take these refurbished gardens under our collective wing and keep them looking attractive over time. We also hope that the papermakers will visit us at the Village to inspire us with their amazing art work. It’s the beginning of a long term relationship between the two organisations.”

The Papermill Business Manager, Paula Lang says that they have been thrilled to have the Falls Estate become associated with The Papermill. “While we would love to tend to the gardens ourselves, it’s just not possible – so we are very grateful to The Falls Estate. What they achieved in a morning is more than we could have ever imagined, and we look forward to keeping in touch in a variety of ways with the staff and residents.”

27-09-2017
Boomerang Bags in Paihia

Boomerang Bags in Paihia, watch out, they return in two weeks!

As newbie volunteers my niece Connie and I were a little apprehensive. Why? Because with our sewing paraphernalia tucked under our arms we were on our way to the 35 Degrees South restaurant on the sunny Paihia waterfront. This was the venue for making Boomerang Bags, a charity set up in Australia and now over here, which involves making shopping bags from recycled material to replace plastic carriers. It sounded great but, really, what had we let ourselves in for? We'd have to speak to people we didn't know, would our novice needlework skills be given scant regard? Brave faces on, we giggled that we were off to save the planet (a side effect of volunteering!!) with a pillowcase, scissors, pins and a sewing machine.

Sarah Greener, the organiser, greeted us and filled us in on the tasks. Although it was only just past 9.00 am there were already lots of busy people cutting out fabrics, pinning, sewing, ironing and screen printing. I was actually amazed. Connie and I set ourselves up on the cutting out table. Boxes galore of gorgeous fabrics had been donated by a local curtain making company, a huge array of t shirts, vests, pillow cases and other recycled fabrics had all been generously given by local people and charity shops. We enjoyed choosing material for bags we thought we would like, then sensibly realised it wasn't about us, it was about making as many as possible. Sarah told us that the Paihia FourSquare used at least 300 plastic bags a day. Boomerang Bags had a mission. Get people to use a fabric bag to take home their shopping, then return it to the shop on their next trip in so others could use it.  

We were too busy to be nervous now, we were part of a team generating a real buzz. Sarah, and her family, had kindly provided coffee and muffins (yumski btw), and I joked that we were working in the most beautiful sweat shop in the world. Seriously, have you seen the view from 35 Degrees South? Sun was pouring in through the windows. The bay was at its best.  If a unicorn had flown overhead it couldn't have been any better! 

Many of the volunteers had responded to facebook posts, others word of mouth and local shop window posters. I think there were also a couple of ladies who just walked in to see what was going on! Out on the deck they would have seen a hive of activity. Boomerang Bags logo was being screen printed onto pockets which were to be stitched onto the front of each bag. The team included some hard working children, some of whom were wielding hair dryers. Their job was to heat dry the logos before passing on the pockets to the ironing team (and obviously to stave off any unwelcome intruders with their hairdryer weapons!) 

About 12.00 people began to drift off as the restaurant was filling up.  It had been a very productive morning, many bags made and many volunteers took some home to finish them. Thanks to 35 Degrees South's incredible venue and Sarah's excellent organisational skills Connie and I had a brilliant introduction to volunteering and although the planet isn't quite saved yet Boomerang Bags is certainly raising awareness and doing something about it. I'll be back next time, hope to see you there too. 

- Diana Smith 

04-09-2017
Waiting list for rider’s due to lack of volunteers

Situated in Barge Park in Maunu, Whangarei's Riding for The Disabled is a, not-for-profit organisation which provides opportunities for anyone with a disability to enjoy safe, healthy, stimulating, therapeutic horse riding and horse-related activities, including Recreational Riding, Therapeutic Riding, 'Equine-assisted' or 'Equine-facilitated' Psychotherapy and Hippotherapy (which literally means treatment with the horse. Operating since the 1970's, and in its current location since 1994, RDA is a wonderful place to spend a couple (or more) hours.

It's a lively place, with 2 covered arenas, stable complex, a classroom with spacious covered deck with kitchen and amenities. They also have a thriving plant shop.

 

RDA operates Monday through to Thursday 8.30am – 3pm, the facility caters for up to 90 riders a week, Rachel Ball, Manager of RDA says, “Volunteers are the life line of our organisation, but we are now at a critically low point, as there is a rider waiting list”. Rachel also stresses that you don't have to be “horsey” to help. “There are heaps of ways that people can help us, and we can teach you all you need to know”.

 

Whangarei RDA have 7 horses at present, the focus is in the stables getting the horses geared up and ready for their riders in the morning along with helping in the arena to lead a horse, or to sidewalk with our riders, and at the end of the day, gear, and horses to put away along with housekeeping. Experience again is not necessary as full training will be given.

 

Rachel points out that fitness levels are no barrier to volunteering, as while you can certainly get a workout leading the horses and mucking out during the day, they also need helpers as greeters, morning tea makers, gardeners, cleaners, and general maintenance. Whatever your ability, RDA has something to suit everyone. They offer a great atmosphere with lots of fun and laughter, where we see you as a valued member of our team, it's very enjoyable and rewarding.

Anyone at least 15 years of age interested in RDA should contact us to learn more. Click HERE for more info or Whangarei Riding for the Disabled 09 438 7521 or visit their Facebook page: Whangarei Riding For The Disabled

- Trish Clarke

29-08-2017
Event Volunteers / Street Collectors Needed

Volunteering Northland have a number of One-off Events and Street Appeals that really need volunteers. Can you help?


 
















Quiz Night Coordinator for Achieve 2B. Whangarei. (This Position is now filled, THANK YOU!)
(event is November but you can start now!)
https://volunteeringnorthland.nz/volunteers/opportunities/1779
 

Special Olympics Far North Basketball event. Kaitaia. 
Thursday 7th September
https://volunteeringnorthland.nz/volunteers/opportunities/1747

 

Special Olympics Football event. Whangarei.
Thursday 21 September
https://volunteeringnorthland.nz/volunteers/opportunities/1778


Special Olympics Athletics Event Whangarei. 
Monday 30 October
https://volunteeringnorthland.nz/volunteers/opportunities/1786


Pink Ribbon Street Appeal Area Coordinators. All towns across Northland. 
13/14 October
https://volunteeringnorthland.nz/volunteers/opportunities  
(type "pink" in the search box)

 

Pink Ribbon Collectors. All towns across Northland. 
13/14 October - 2 hour or more shifts. 
https://volunteeringnorthland.nz/volunteers/opportunities/1775

 

Habitat for Humanity are seeking volunteers for the Global Build in Colombia - Across Northland 
(Nov 2017) - note, this does require you to pay for flights etc. 
https://volunteeringnorthland.nz/volunteers/opportunities/1748
 

Habitat for Humanity are Seeking a Bar Manager and Waitstaff for fundraiser. Whangarei.
Monday 30th October
https://volunteeringnorthland.nz/volunteers/opportunities/1784
https://volunteeringnorthland.nz/volunteers/opportunities/1785

 

Log on to refer yourself, or flick us an email info@volunteeringnorthland.nz

16-08-2017
Subsidised Professional Development Workshops


We are proud that we have been able to organise eight subsidised professional development workshops for the non-profit sector in Northland.

Foundation North has made a major contribution towards the cost making sure the training is accessible for many (paid and volunteer staff).

We have been using the first-come-first serve principal and distributed the available seats "fairly" over as many organisations as possible.


 

  • 14-15 Aug, "Comprehensive First Aid" course Whangarei
  • 24 Aug, "Communication" workshop Whangarei
  • 4 Sep,  "Communication" workshop Kerikeri
  • 4-5 Sep, "Comprehensive First Aid" course Kaitaia
  • 20 Sep,  "Communication" workshop Kerikeri
  • 27 October,  "Communication" workshop Kaitaia
  • 2 November, "Volunteer Management" seminar Whangarei
  • 7 December,  "Communication" workshop Whangarei (Full)

Comprehensive First Aid workshop:

Communication workshop; Essential skills to improve relationships & reduce friction:

(note, this is the same workshop held in different locations/times to suit the needs of the wider Northland community)

  • Delivered by Barbara Jaques ( www.bjprojects.co.nz )

  • 9am - 4pm, $45 plus GST,  lunch included

  • Workshop covering:

    • Maps of the world and how we think – understanding others’ thinking and rationale

    • Developing a connection (rapport) – using non-verbal communication to build relationships

    • Attending – building relationships that are respectful

    • Listening – building relationships that really connect with people

    • The problem-ownership model – a model for dealing with problems/conflicts

    • Getting your own needs met – how to help yourself

    • Win-win outcomes – developing solutions

    • Dealing with values – an overview of managing differences

Volunteer Management seminar:

  • Delivered by Rob Jackson (from the UK, invited by NZ Volunteer Centre Network, www.robjacksonconsulting.com ). We hosted Rob in October 2015 as well. He is one of the leading authorities on volunteering in the world, he has written, spoken and trained on volunteer programme management internationally for over twenty years.

  • 9am - 3:30pm, light lunch included

    • $0 Early bird (ends 1 October 2017), no charge for one person from organisations registered with Volunteering Northland

    • $30 (plus GST) for additional people from registered organisations (make sure you book your first place free, before 2 October)

    • $75 (plus GST) for people from organisations not registered with Volunteering Northland

  • Morning session:

    • Valuing Volunteer Management; A look at the essential role of the leader and manager of volunteers. How can we effectively lobby for more support?

  • Afternoon session:

    • Managing Volunteers; Get everything right and retention happens

24-07-2017
Volunteer - It's Rewarding!

It took me a few years into my (early) retirement to be ready to get out and turn up for the causes that I'm passionate about, and it came about by accident really. 

One day I was writing letters with suggestions for environmental change - and the next I found myself working alongside a dedicated little group to promote a plastic-free market, then added in helping to run a community sewing group, as one thing lead to another.

I have got so much more out of these groups than I have put in. I've met some fabulous like-minded people, and had loads of positive feedback, plus I'm working to change things that are important to me.

A few weeks back our local volunteer organization (Volunteering Northland) held a promotion in the city to showcase all of the local groups who are looking for volunteers. The marquee walls were lined with opportunities to give a little time in a plethora of different ways - anything from gardening to preparing food to sewing banners or volunteer firefighting.

I thought how wonderful these opportunities would be for the bored or the lonely or the unemployed or the depressed.

Today I have just offered to join a nation-wide group who harvest fruit that is going to waste and redirect it to people in need. The group also preserve or freeze fruit, or turn it into jams and chutneys to give away. I'm looking forward to meeting a whole new bunch of people and new experiences, and even less housework getting done.
- Anne Fraser (Check out more on her
Blog)

19-07-2017
National Volunteer Week 2017

Most successful of the NVW 2017 program was the “Team Volunteering” project.

Connecting local business leaders with Not for Profit organisations. 21 projects were actioned with 26 different teams joining up. That's 120+ volunteers! A couple of individuals have offered on-going support to the organisations they were involved with. Also, the local press have responded favourably with a number of editorial stories and photos in the Northland regional newspapers.

    This initiative also highlights how 'episodic or short term' volunteering is a growing trend globally, evidence shows that with today’s busy lifestyle, volunteers are looking for flexible arrangements and are often willing to commit in the short-term. (State of Volunteering Report, VNZ 2016). - Trish Clarke (Volunteering Northland)

    As part of National Volunteer Week (18 - 24th June), the Northland Advocate took on our challenge to spend time with us to brainstorm on how we can better promote WINGS within our community and increase our paid memberships. A team of three people form the Northern Advocate (Craig, Greg and Jan) generously spent two hours with Caroline, Jackie and Rosalind throwing around idea's and strategies. A big 'Thank you' to Volunteer Northland for providing an avenue for businesses to help each other within Volunteer Week. And a massive 'Thank you' to the team from Northern Advocate for taking on the challenge. - Caroline Hudson (WINGS)

    Last week for National Volunteer Week a few of the ladies from our centre and myself visited Dress for Success and had a lot of fun learning about their services. We helped with the ironing, polishing shoes and sorting clothing for the upcoming sale. We worked alongside volunteers from Dress for success as well as Alison Geddes the new General Manager of Planning and Development for WDC - Jessie Manney (Mulitcultural Whangarei)

13-07-2017
Northland Fire Brigades Need your Help

Dear Reader

Northland Fire Brigades need your help and as little as one hour a week could be a huge help.

Volunteers are the backbone of the Northland fire service, but in the Far North we are experiencing significant volunteer shortages that will impact our ability to respond to callouts. This is a serious matter for our community and we need your support to change this.

Low volunteer numbers mean local brigades are struggling to respond to emergencies. If we cannot safely respond to an emergency, a brigade further away will have to respond on our behalf. A slower response time means your home, business, and even your life, are at a greater risk in an emergency. 

We need at least four people on a truck to respond to a call out – a driver, an officer and two firefighters. We currently struggle to safely fully crew a fire truck and this is increasingly difficult during the day. If our volunteer numbers get any smaller, we risk losing our local brigade.

We want our communities to remain safe, but we need your help to achieve this. The solution is simple – we need more volunteers.

How can you help? 
The first step is the willingness to get involved with your local brigade. Age, gender, and fitness are no barrier to being a volunteer. If you are prepared to step forward and support your community, my team will help you to find a suitable role – be it fighting fires or providing administration support at the station. 

In addition to being on call, the time commitment is just one night/hour a week for training and we offer:

• full firefighter training and the opportunity to develop new life skills;
• specialist equipment;
• and a family-orientated environment, with social evenings.
If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, but have concerns about how this might impact your job, we can discuss the responsibilities and benefits with you and your employer.

More volunteers mean we can reduce the workload for all volunteers, and still keep our community safe. Every person who steps forward can make a difference.

I urge you to call my team to discuss how you can be involved. Even if you cannot volunteer yourself, you might know someone who is up for the challenge. 

Our volunteers are there for you in your time of need. Now is your chance to be there for us.

Regards

Wipari Henwood
Area Manager, Muri Whenua
Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Brigade Support Opportunity Click -
Here
Operational Fire Fighter click - Here

12-07-2017
Volunteers wanted at Youth Space

Situated in the Cafler Park Rose Gardens, Whangarei Youth Space is a lively hub of activity - a safe space for the youth of the city to come together, share ideas, and be themselves. 

Volunteers are wanted at the space to act in a support role, helping with assisting activities, doing admin, and generally working as part of the team. There is a wide range of different opportunities for volunteers.

Full time worker Jackson Moetara started off as a volunteer, eventually moving into a paid position as his hard work paid off, and his passion and talent for helping youth developed. He works at the space ‘to give back to his community, and to share his life experiences with young people.’

The Youth Space is an integral part of the community, located both in the heart of the city and the heart of its people - providing health services, activities, and support for education, training and employment to the young people of Whangarei.

Whangarei Youth Space attracts around 5500 visits annually, and provides 1600 health consultations. The space opened in 2014 in response to a need identified by the youth of Whangarei, and the wider community, for a welcoming youth-focused space in the city.

Ryan Donaldson is one of the initial founders of the space, saying that ‘it’s the kind of thing he wanted when he was younger.’ He feels that it is ‘his duty’ to help the young people of the community, and provide the future generation with the support they need in order to grow into their best selves.

For information email Volunteering Northland at info@volunteeringnorthland.nz or go talk to the friendly Youth Space team in the rose gardens, they are open Tuesday - Saturday. You can also email them at contact@youthspace.co.nz.

Abby Buckthought

11-07-2017
Team Volunteering Hitting a High this June

The temperature may be dropping, but the enthusiasm and uptake of Volunteering Teams in Northland has already hit a high this month.

In recognition of National Volunteer Week (18-24 June 2017), Volunteering Northland asked a number of businesses and organisations to rally a group or team to volunteer on a project at a non-profit for a half day during the week. The response was phenomenal, with teams ranging from large corporate organisation's leadership teams and big business groups, through to other non-profits, migrants and student crews taking part.


Some teams are using their business skills to help a community group, others are gathering teams to carry out projects as diverse as book-sorting to tree-planting, painting, cleaning and even unpacking 1000's of Teddy Bears. Over 24 teams have already committed to help out various non-profit organisations all over Northland.

Manager of Volunteering Northland Bart van der Meer said the response was incredible, both from the non-profit's project ideas to the teams wanting to volunteer. He says the key this year was simply asking people, such as getting organisations to come up with short term projects and asking teams to come on-board. “We know that most people volunteer because someone asked them to, this year our role was to start the asking and then be a conduit between the various groups”.

The aim of Team Volunteering is for groups to have fun, make valuable connections, all the while helping to build a connected community, and to boost a team's morale through an enriching activity. “By the end of the day, a team will have achieved something worthwhile for a good cause”.

This initiative also highlights how 'episodic or short term' volunteering is a growing trend globally, evidence shows that with today’s busy lifestyle, volunteers are looking for flexible arrangements and are often willing to commit in the short-term. (State of Volunteering Report, VNZ 2016).

- Trish Clarke (Volunteering Northland)

14-06-2017
Full House for First Aid (Kerikeri)

Skiing accidents, tree-trimming mishaps and hypothermia were all part of the imaginary carnage at a first Aid training session, designed to bring volunteers and teams safe in home and at the workplace.

Twenty representatives from Mid North Non-Profits took part in the 12 hour course – spread over two days. The course was provided by Volunteering Northland and grants from Oxford Sport Trust and Pub Charities.



Red Cross first aid training coordinator Kevin Spill said his organisation's aim was to get a first aider in every household in the country.

“Most people end up doing the training through work – but the reality is, most accidents happen outside the workplace, at home,” he said.

Volunteering Northland's Trish Clarke said the two day workshop filled quickly when advertised and the organisation is looking at hosting further courses in Kaitaia and Whangarei. Recent changes to the Health and Safety at Work Act highlighted the need for organisations to keep their teams and volunteers safe.

“Many of the participants are from organisations that work with the public or host workshops, with some groups also out working in remote locations out in the environment,” Ms Clarke said.

As well as recruiting and referring volunteers to a huge range of organisation across the district, Volunteering Northland provides training for volunteer coordinators, raising the professionalism in the sector.

For details on how to become a volunteer or register and organisation to recruit volunteers, visit www.volunteeringnorthland.nz, 09 945 4984, or see the team at 71 Bank St.

-By Alexandra Newlove
Northern Advocate

17-05-2017
Go to Town, Make a Bike

Whare Bike Whangarei is not your typical bike shop. Run entirely by volunteers and with parts and funding coming from mostly donations, this is a place that with a little time and effort turns fantasies to reality, part of a revolutionary co-op known as a ‘bike kitchen.’ It’s a not-for-profit, bicycle cooperative focused on making cycling and bike repair accessible to everyone.

30 year old cycle enthusiast and entrepreneur Ash Holwell is at the forefront of the Whare Bike recent re-emergence and blossoming success.

“I guess I had no idea at the beginning, it was just opening up and seeing what happens, then we had a whole lot of bicycle enthusiasts come through and a whole lot of people donating bikes. People tend to think it’s a shame to send old bikes to the land fill. Within the second week of re-opening we got 9 bikes on the road, so there is definitely a demand” Ash also points out how Whare Bike provides the regular volunteers a home and a purpose.

Whare bike is located next to Chipmunks on Woods Road Whangarei and opens Thursday evenings from 5:30- 7:30pm, and is also on Facebook as Whare Bike. Ash is keen to grow and welcomes everyone; those in need of a bike, to new volunteers and special interest groups.

“Just come down to this space and see how it is in its rebuilt state and find out how easy it is to make a bike and how easy it is to volunteer” Whare Bike is currently working on getting systems sorted out to the point of being a sustainable organisation that can support itself and the volunteers into the future. “It’s a hands on way of learning which fits better than school for a whole lot of people. It is a useful skill you can use for yourself, and has a whole lot of applications into the future”.

Ash got the idea of recycling cycles from his travels in Vienna and the Netherlands where he discovered bicycles as a key mode of transport there. “I started cycling in the Netherlands where everyone bicycles. I think there is 19 million bicycles there and only 17 million people”.

Shortly after Ash moved to Vienna he discovered a couple of community bike workshops. “I was a poor student and had no money so I went there to build bikes and I really loved just putting the bikes together… There was one that had a great culture around young kids that were helping out other people. The cycle couriers would also come in after work and have a beer and then everyone would work on their bikes for a while and then have food together, it was a really cool biking community. It seemed to make so much sense that there were a whole lot of bikes that were rusty, lying in sheds and back yards potentially going to the rubbish dump to get them to a place where people can come together and work on them to keep them moving.”

Overall it was refreshing and inspirational to meet someone so young and passionate, willing to give back to the community. I encourage you to see for yourself what Whare Bike is all about on a Thursday.

 

Tim Schmidt

08-11-2016
On the Look Out

Do you consider yourself somewhat of an observer? Someone with a desire to make the community a safer place? If so, then volunteering for the Police may be for you! There is currently a shortage of volunteers, needed for two different roles - monitoring CCTV footage, and night patrols.

Volunteers are needed in these roles, as there has been a decline in volunteers as of late - night patrols have had to stop monitoring the Abbey Caves car park in the Parahaki area, while CCTV volunteers have been working extra shifts. At least eight more volunteers are required for patrols, as well as eight for CCTV monitoring.

Volunteering is described as a rewarding role, which allows you to meet new people, make a difference, give back to the community, have new experiences, and fill your spare time in a productive way.

Night patrols, facilitated by CPNZ (Community Patrols of New Zealand) involve 4 hour long shifts - from 10pm to 2am on Friday and Saturday nights - during which volunteers drive around the district and keep an eye out for any suspicious behavior.

There are also daytime shifts during the summer in popular areas such as Whale Bay, The Town Basin, Parihaka, and many more.

Robert Patterson, District Representative for CPNZ, describes CPNZ volunteering as a “very well organised network that wants to make a change, and will go about doing it.”

Ross Wagner, Whangarei resident and CCTV volunteer, describes his role as a volunteer as “a venture in community safety”, saying, “We’re just trying to make a bit of a difference”.

Volunteering to watch CCTV footage is suitable for people of all abilities, with Wagner joking, “breathing is good, age doesn’t matter.”

Watching CCTV footage also involves night shifts, is wheelchair friendly, and is suitable “for anyone with a killer instinct,” as volunteers are on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary, with upwards of twenty cameras to be monitored.

The joining process is relaxed, with potential volunteers encouraged to sample the role, and if they feel that this is suitable for them, they may make whatever commitment works best for them.

For more information on volunteering to patrol, please visit the Volunteering Northland website CPNZ page www.volunteeringnorthland.nz/volunteers/opportunities/1581, visit the CPNZ Facebook page www.facebook.com/CommunityPatrolsNewZealand, or visit the CPNZ website www.cpnz.org.nz.

For more information on volunteering to watch CCTV footage, please visit the Volunteering Northland CCTV page http://volunteeringnorthland.nz/volunteers/opportunities/1580.

 

By Abby Buckthought

26-10-2016
"Making Time" during National Volunteer Week 2016

Kathryn Ross (GM Strategic Planning & Policy FNDC) about volunteering at Hospice Mid-Northland: "Volunteering at Hospice during National Volunteering Week was a privilege. The work of volunteers makes our communities better places to live and enhances the lives of others.  I was amazed at the range of skills people have, and the talented way that organisations tap into these skills to match the person with the volunteering roles they perform.  All skills are valued and if you didn’t think you had anything to offer, you’d probably be very pleasantly surprised.  The deal is not one-sided.  Being a volunteer gives you your own rewards.  The work done by volunteers in our society is to be celebrated.

Special thanks to Hospice Mid-North for allowing me to join them.  They are exceptional people, doing exceptional things and if you’re looking to contribute, especially if you are young, I know they’d love to hear from you."

Sjoerd Post (CEO Refining NZ) about volunteering at Citizens Advice Bureau: "Very stressful job...Respect!". Moea Armstrong about Sjoerd Post: "Quick learner – would be happy to employ him!"

Nikki Davies Colley (Chair Northpower Ltd.) about volunteering at North Haven Hospice: "There is nothing better than a community supporting those in need in their own community.  I was privileged to spend some time with the North Haven Hospice team and learned just how much it takes to provide this wonderful service for patients and families at the most vulnerable time of their lives.  I was astounded by how many people it takes to run this service, and by how many of them were generously volunteering their time.  To learn that it is a 24/7 operation so that even people with full-time jobs can contribute in some small way was an eye opener for me. On top of that, everyone I met was great - welcoming, friendly, professional and compassionate.  Thanks for taking the time to educate me.  I will certainly be putting out the good word on behalf of your team!"

27-06-2016
National Volunteer Week 2016

Each year New Zealand celebrates National Volunteer Week to recognise and celebrate the vital contribution of New Zealand’s approximately 1.2 million volunteers to social development, the economy and the environment.
This year, the week focuses on time through the following two sayings:

  • Make time - Whai whā
  • Thanks for making time - Kia ora mō tāu whai whā

The 2016 campaign is therefore a call to action. We believe that for volunteering to flourish, and the various benefits of volunteering to be realised, people and volunteer organisations are increasingly going to need to make time, now and into the future.

This year’s theme recognises that volunteering can fit into a busy schedule and that there are volunteering opportunities suitable to people’s individual needs and commitments. People who are volunteering this week include:

  • Brent Eastwood (Chief Executive Sport Northland) volunteering at RoadSafe Northland
  • Debbie Evans (CEO Kaipara Community Health Trust) volunteering at Dress for Success
  • Rob Forlong (CEO WDC) volunteering at Quarry Arts Centre
  • Sjoerd Post (CEO Refining NZ) volunteering at Citizens Advice Bureau
  • Kate Malcolm (Owner Dive Tutukaka) volunteering at Idea Services
  • Kathryn Ross (GM Strategic Planning & Policy FNDC) volunteering at Hospice Mid-Northland
  • Craig Cooper (Editor Northern Advocate) volunteering at Food for Life
  • Eru Lyndon (Regional Commissioner for MSD) volunteering at Literacy Whangarei
  • Maggie Dixon-Lester (Director Maggie Dixon Real Estate) volunteering at Cancer Society
  • Malcolm Nicolson (Chief Executive NRC) volunteering at BOI Vintage Railway
  • Nikki Davies-Colley (Chair Northpower Ltd.) volunteering at North Haven Hospice
  • Graham B Wallace (Chief Executive Marsden Maritime Holdings) volunteering at Whangarei Budgeting Service

 

 

20-06-2016
Community Matters with Libby Jones

The week of 19 to 25 June is National Volunteer week. The theme this year is “Make time and Thanks for making time.” It is both a call to action and an appreciation of those who make such a significant voluntary contribution to our communities.

In our busy lives, time is what many people feel they lack most. Trying to make time to fit in anything else can seem like an impossible task. In fact, lack of time is the most commonly cited reason why people don’t volunteer, even though they say they would like to be able to help. Of course sometimes this can be a handy excuse to avoid getting involved, in other cases, if it is not made clear to potential volunteers how much time is expected, what they will be required to do, and importantly how they exit an organisation, they may hold back from coming on board.

Community groups often rely on the goodwill of volunteers, without considering the value they bring to the organisation. Volunteers need to know their involvement is making a genuine difference and that their contribution is both recognised and appreciated.

Good volunteer management creates a win-win situation for the volunteers and the group. A bit of planning and the right person leading the team can make all the difference to volunteers’ motivation to become and stay involved.

Looking after volunteers

  • Effectively respond to enquiries and create a welcoming environment – including time requirements
  • Find out what motivates your volunteers so you can keep them interested, it may be different for each person
  • Match volunteers to the roles available in the organisation
  • Share the workload
  • Provide orientation and training where needed
  • Invest time and money into practices such as expense reimbursement and role expectations
  • Have a mentor or someone available for new volunteers to call with queries

Keeping volunteers

  • Understand there are many factors that contribute towards volunteers staying in an organisation, including personal e.g. motivation, life stage, and available time, as well as organisational e.g. length and usefulness of meetings, good leadership and communication
  • Ensure cost is not a barrier to volunteers’ involvement
  • Have an organisational culture that welcomes, values and respects volunteers
  • Ensure you communicate with volunteers and keep them up to date
  • Recognise, appreciate and thank your volunteers and supporters regularly and genuinely - take the time to ask them how they might like to be recognised and rewarded/thanked
  • Ensure that staff (if you have them) involve and support volunteers
  • Have fun
  • Have well run effective and time limited meetings

There are organisations available to support community groups if they need help in this area, such as Volunteering NZ and closer to home Volunteering Northland, as well as businesses who offer training and support such as Exult, and others help with specific purposes such as CreativeNZ and SportNZ.

If you haven’t acknowledged your volunteers recently, then Volunteer Week brings the perfect opportunity to recognise and thank them for the work they do in your group and community, and to check in with them about how it is going for them.

19-06-2016
Education and Environment Project join

Have you heard of the Dragonfly Springs wetlands project? Situated in Onerahi between Ngaio St and Raumati Crescent, it’s a co-development initiative of husband and wife team Jeremy Busck and Pamela Winter.
The sanctuary has been developed over the last 7 years and utilises 15 acres of low ground to act as drainage and run off filter for rain water and a buffer in times of excess rainfall – Jeremy describes it as the liver and kidneys of the land. As well as its practical function, it forms a pleasant wild-life refuge and an asset for the local community.

I spoke to one of the volunteers about the work. Fiona is studying environmental science and she feels this is an opportunity to get first hand practical experience on a large project, experience that will stand her in good stead once employed in that discipline.
There are many other volunteers who give time and a community project team do a weekly planting stint, but keen gardeners, handy men and indeed anyone interested is always welcome.

The resource is used as an educational facility by Unitech and the Northland Polytech, the Mountain to Sea trust use the Dragonfly Springs in their field environment education programme.
Guided tours are offered to the Whangarei district gardening clubs, U3A and the local pre-school and primary schools who are considered a very important target group, especially Onerahi Primary, who have their own nominated area.

In addition to the on-site planting programme, the plant nursery supplies the Onerahi Coastline Action Group. Kiwi North, Parahaki Mountain Bike Park and other community projects.

So if you fancy spending a bit of quality time in the fresh air helping to develop a pleasant and positive asset for the area, feel free to put your name down. The project has occasional open days and the next new is due in the spring and will be advertised on the volunteer web site.

Story by Tony Mullinger

01-09-2015
Minister kicking-off NVW-2015 in Whangarei

The regeneration of Matakohe/Limestone island is a community project, driven entirely by the zeal and hard work of countless volunteers. There is always plenty to do on the island to maintain and grow it’s capacity as a sanctuary for native species, from administrative roles on the Friends of Matakohe/Limestone Island Committee to hands-on tasks like tree planting and pest control.
Any help makes a big difference, and there is no expectation to commit to regular volunteering. Even as a one-off, getting stuck in on the island and working alongside the rangers and other passionate volunteers is a remarkably fulfilling experience.

Island Ranger Bernie Buhler leads the tour, keeping the group well entertained and informed with his expert knowledge of the island’s history and eco-system.
Over the past 25 years, the generosity and helping hands of countless local volunteers have transformed island into a safe haven for endangered species, including kiwi, banded rail, New Zealand dotterel, moko skink and forest gecko.

The island has been cleared of mammalian predators, creating a pest-free haven for a proportionately huge population of Kiwi, with 40-50 chicks calling Matakohe home at any given time and the two permanent breeding pairs roaming the island’s 37 hectares.
The island operates as a kiwi crèche, with over 150 chicks having been raised there and released into the wild since the early 2000’s.

The Minister is clearly delighted at the opportunity to get her hands dirty and contribute to the ongoing regeneration project.
“This has truly been a community project thanks to the leadership of the committee who have created family friendly voluntary activities suitable for everyone that wants to be involved”

Story by Miranda Rose, Photo by Blandine Chilese

21-06-2015
We've got Northland covered

With statistics showing northland has the highest number of volunteers per capita in the country, Volunteering Whangarei’s job just got a lot bigger.
That is because the not for profit organisation has had a name change, now operating as Volunteering Northland.

This means they will help coordinate volunteers in all of northland, including the Far North District, which is in the top five percentages of volunteers for local authorities nationally, and the Northland electorate, which ranks as number one in voluntary work per resident.

Community and voluntary sector minister Jo Goodhew, who was at the launch at the Kamo Voluntary Fire Brigade, says the rebrand is a positive one. Northland has always had strong regional towns and cities which have a sense of pride in their history,” she says.
“It is also a region which has a very strong identity. I have no doubt volunteers consider themselves to be supporting the region as a whole.”

Volunteering Northland manager Bart van der Meer says although the move was a natural progression, it also shows the strength of volunteering in the area.
“That this is happening within two years of us starting has to do with local success and also the support from the Far North District Council,” he says.

Although the expansion will see an increased workload, the organiastion has processes in place to ensure the transition goes smoothly.
“Our website, our main point of access for non-profit organisations and volunteers, can easily be modified to handle different locations. We have experience with other ways of communication, like local papers and our stall at public events, and there are opportunities to do the same in the other districts.
“Many organisations that work with us operate in the whole of Northland or have sister organisations outside the Whangarei District.”

Van der Meer says he thinks the northland attitude plays a big part in volunteering being so popular.
“It must have to do with the approach to life where taking care of each other seems to come natural. I myself come from a crowded urban area where it is normal not to engage with neighbours.”
“In Whangarei, in town, in a store or on the beach, I often have a spontaneous friendly chat with a stranger, which of course in most cases turns out to be a local.”

“I guess this attitude results in the willingness of people to put their hand up, especially when someone asks them.”

It is asking that is the main purpose of Volunteering Northland; asking volunteer orgainsations where they require assistance, but mainly asking local people to help their local community.

Story by Jared Dennis, Photo by Blandine Chilese

21-06-2015
Developing skills, showing motivation

Volunteering as an unpaid reporter has really paid off for Ayla Miller. After a stint as a volunteer journalist she has now landed a full time role as a writer.

Ayla says she always had a passion for English and writing, so after finishing her degree in Media Studies at Victoria University, she intended on completing further study in Wellington towards a course in journalism.

However, she decided to return home and took up a volunteer position with Volunteering Whangarei as a reporter. She says she realised experience was far more valuable than an expensive course and the job could be quite rewarding.

The position helped her gain experience with writing and interviewing people.
“Actually getting published was a big thing to put on a CV,” Ayla says.
“It helped with getting a job later on”. As part of her position she met with various volunteer organisations and covered events around Whangarei.

Several of her pieces were published online and in the local paper, and she helped draw attention to some of the wonderful community groups and events in Whangarei who need volunteers and helpers. “Meeting people, finding out what everyone’s doing, so many people get up to things that you never would hear about, unless you go out and talk to them,” she says of her time as a volunteer.

Ayla is now a reporter at the Kaipara Lifestyler and covers stories about news and events in the Kaipara community. She says she enjoys her job because she gets to work on positive stories about her community. “When you meet little sub committees of people who have visions and ideas toward improving your town; it’s quite exciting.”

In the future Ayla says she would like to keep writing, and perhaps use it to supplement her love of travelling, and pursue a career in travel writing.

Story by Rachael Machado

20-06-2015
Letter from FIFA Volunteer

As I write this, I’ve just completed 10 shifts amounting to 40 hours of voluntary work for the 2015 FIFA under 20’s World Cup. What a unique experience it was. The event was proudly held at the “Northland Events Centre” known locally as Toll Stadium.

I applied as a volunteer back in September 2014. It was easy to do online, where they captured all your personal details to carry out identity and police checks etc. In early Feb I was called up for an interview where my strengths and preferences were discussed with the aim of identifying the most suitable role from the numerous and various opportunities available.
There were lots of positions to be filled such as stadium dress, drivers, sorting and distributing uniform, processing accreditation, ticketing, and spectator services to name just a few.

Having volunteers was an essential part to making this event a success. In particular I was driven by the keen desire to be an ambassador for our country. I wanted to be a part of the team that showcased Whangarei as a place that can cater for and deliver such professional events to perfection.
Football is the world’s biggest sport and the World would be watching us! It was great to be involved, make the tournament a success and bring beauty and a special atmosphere to the four games held here.

I enjoyed my time making new friends and learnt new things especially around event planning and security. The training provided was online as well as via flexible group training sessions. Procedures were set out by way of clearly documented job cards.

Apart from game days – work shifts were flexible so volunteers could state online their availability and work allocations were fitted around your personal commitments. Volunteers got to wear and keep a smart Adidas uniform, food needs were catered for and contributions recognised with an after event party.

If there was one thing I wish would have been better, then that would have been an increased attendance on game days. I had hoped that more locals would have supported this event and ultimately our city.
The stadium is a real asset to our community and I hope it brings in many more events for the benefit of our city. If new facilities emerge and improvements take place around our place then it will contribute to more tourist dollars for our economy.

I “Love it Here”.

Dawn Pugh
June 2015

01-06-2015