Pauline Wilson: We are a “wrap-around” service, embracing family and extended family.
Story by volunteer reporter Helen Frances, Volunteering Northland
Through a range of services including counselling, social work, financial mentoring, parenting programmes and their Senior Services Programme, Otamatea Community Services support individuals and families to live their best lives; to create safe and nurturing environments for themselves. Pauline Wilson, the Community Support Manager, describes Otamatea Community Services as “wrap-around” because they embrace family and extended family, they can bring a range of services to bear on the problems that individuals or families may be experiencing, and they provide services for people from the cradle to the grave.
But they can’t do everything they do by themselves. Funding from the Ministry of Social Development, grants, donations and fundraising pay for most of the services they provide, but they regularly encounter situations for which the practical help of volunteers is required.
Pauline describes how they are called on to help people who have no support systems, who may be isolated through geography, mental health issues, disability, or lack of transport, or may be struggling financially. “We deal with all sorts of practical problems and we need volunteers to help.”
Seniors are a group of particular concern. “We are very aware of the risk of loneliness and isolation amongst older people,” says Pauline. “There is a high likelihood that older people may have some disability, and problems with transport.” As part of its Seniors Programme Otamatea Community Services provide a communal lunch every month, and a variety of activities, games and exercise sessions every Monday. “But now we want to enhance the programme by providing in-home companionship; a regular connection to help people get involved in activities,” says Pauline. Pauline sees a home-visiting companionship service as part of being a responsive and supportive community, bringing both volunteers and seniors a sense of belonging.
Whether you prefer to help with one-off or short term projects, perhaps at short notice, or you would like to forge an on-going relationship with someone, and provide support and assistance on a timetabled basis then the Seniors Home Companionship Programme may be just the thing for you. Volunteering gives people a sense of belonging and purpose, of making a contribution to the community. But here there is also a sense of reciprocity. Almost everyone grows old. Who knows – the contribution you make to the Seniors Programme now might be returned to you in full in the future.