Community Development - Volunteering Northland October 2020

Amber Brown and Chris Schreuder

Providing chances for people to remain active participants in the workforce, develop and maintain skills, make connections and find future work is the aim behind Volunteering Northland’s post-COVID-19 work.

The organisation’s efforts to put people into about 200 currently available volunteer opportunities around Northland, have been boosted recently with the appointment of Outreach Coordinators Amber Brown and Chris Schreuder.

The two are working with community groups to identify short-term, project-based volunteering opportunities and set up easy systems that allow community groups to find potential volunteers and their specialist skills.

Amber said expectations were high that many people from a wide range of demographics, with equally wide-ranging skills may become unemployed at least for short periods as a result of COVID-19.

“Sometimes short-term volunteering can create a problem for organisations and volunteers because people feel bad about dropping a commitment when they find work, or because organisations want to invest in long-term members.

“This is where this project makes a difference. We are very keen to find opportunities where people and organisations can participate without worrying about time-frames. That means finding suitable projects, then getting the message out there to people with much-needed skills.

“For example, our own organisation will soon be looking to find someone with great graphic design skills who can work with us on a four-week project. The benefit to them might be in making connections that can lead to permanent work, creating something to add to their portfolio and/or receiving a reference from us.

“For us, we get some quality work which will otherwise simply not get done as our funds are needed elsewhere to benefit the community.”

Whangarei District Council contributed $20,000 to this initiative from its Community Emergency Recovery Fund. This Fund is in response to Covid-19 and aims to support organisations and initiatives that are helping our district to recover from the economic and social impacts of the pandemic.