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Volunteering often begins with Plunket

Volunteering often begins with Plunket

All volunteers deserve a pat on the back this week (subs 7 – 13 March) to celebrate Volunteer Awareness Week, says Kaye Crowther, New Zealand president of Plunket.

As one of the largest volunteer organisations in the country, with eight thousand volunteers, Kaye Crowther says Plunket is likely to be the first organisation where new mothers give a helping hand.

“They are then on their way with a career in volunteering as they follow their children’s development from Plunket to playcentre and kindergarten, school, sport and other activities. Volunteering is a New Zealand tradition.

“Volunteers are a hugely valuable resource, but are often forgotten by policy and decision makers. If it wasn’t for volunteer mums, many organisations and activities, particularly those involving children and families, would struggle to survive,” says Kaye Crowther.

“We depend on our volunteer support to deliver well child health services effectively. High quality volunteer training is a crucial part of our education strategy. Our volunteers work alongside paid health professionals as a team, providing a broad range of services and support to families.”

Last year Plunket appointed 18 Volunteer Service Leaders (VSLs) to further strengthen its volunteer network and ensure all health and safety obligations are met.

“Our VSLs are responsible for volunteer operational activity in their area, including playgroups, Car Seat Rental Schemes, new mothers’ support groups, parenting education classes and crèches. They also offer volunteers support in setting up procedures, offer training in health, safety and employment issues and help deal with any problems volunteers may encounter,” she says.

Plunket also operates a Volunteer Education Programme which encourages personal growth and development and helps build self-esteem and confidence. Topics covered in the first of three training levels include time management, communication skills, delegation, stress management and planning.

Levels two and three train volunteers in specific tasks, including the Car Seat Rental Schemes, committee roles and annual appeal co-ordination.

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