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Volunteers Transform the World

Volunteers Transform the World

“Social change relies on volunteers”, Glenda Martin, Volunteering Canterbury’s Outreach and Marketing Manager says, “and although we know that volunteering through our member organisations impacts on nearly 40,000 people in this region each year, we have decided that 2018 is a great year to talk about the benefits of volunteering which go beyond our region.”

This year Volunteering Canterbury will celebrate its 30th anniversary, having been the second Volunteer Centre to be established in New Zealand back in 1988, and one of a network of just under 20 around the country today.

As a basis, Volunteer Centres recruit volunteers and support those who engage them. “Good management is as essential for paid as it is unpaid staff”, Martin says, “and we want people who are gifting their time to have an experience which is as worthwhile for the organisation as it is for the volunteer”. Over 250 current volunteer roles are available through Volunteering Canterbury and ongoing support for community organisations includes advice on how to adapt those roles to the needs and motivations of twenty-first century volunteers. “Many of us are time-poor”, Martin says, “and so it becomes increasingly important when someone decides to make a gift of their time, that it is to something which is, at the very least, satisfying.”

Martin attended last year’s IAVE (International Association for Volunteer Effort) Asia/Pacific regional conference in Kuala Lumpur. “It really reiterated to me that volunteers are like social change agents and hold a tremendous potential in meeting the future development challenges of their countries.” Martin presented at the conference on the initiatives and collaboration within the community sector since the Canterbury quakes of 2010 and 2011, the new partnerships formed and the education needed to ensure that today’s much diversified Christchurch population is able to easily get involved in this exciting phase of re-building our city – and remembering that communities are about more than concrete and mortar, they are about people.

“When we looked at the depth and breadth of what our member organisations are already achieving around our own community, it seemed a natural step for us to look further afield, at the global impact.” For that reason, Volunteering Canterbury will be talking a lot this year about the alignment of volunteer roles with the UN’s 17 goals to transform the world. “New Zealand has signed off on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and the target for meeting those goals is 2030. We hope at the end of this year we are able to talk about the impact made here in Canterbury to those international goals and to put a line in the sand to measure our ongoing progress.” A successful sustainable development agenda requires partnerships between governments, the private sector and civil society and Volunteering Canterbury is looking forward to playing its part.


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