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Minister of Health honours Totara Hospice Youth Ambassadors

Minister of Health honours Totara Hospice Youth Ambassadors

The work of a group of young people helping those with life-limiting illness in the South Auckland region has been recognised with a special award from the Minister of Health.

The Totara Hospice Youth Ambassador team received the Youth Health Team Volunteer Award from Minister of Health, Hon. Dr Jonathan Coleman, as part of the Minister of Health Volunteer Awards at Parliament House on Monday June 13th. The national awards programme celebrates and recognises the invaluable contributions of volunteers to the health and disability sector in New Zealand.

The Youth Ambassador team comprises students aged 11-19 who volunteer at Totara Hospice, a palliative care facility in South Auckland for those with life-limiting illness. Many of the young Ambassadors have experienced the grief of losing loved ones and find volunteering at hospice a way of giving back.

Their work includes helping with fundraising events throughout the year and raising the profile of the hospice in its local community and among other young people. The 22 students nominated for the award have been with the programme, which began in 2013, for two years or more.

Senior Youth Ambassador, Amy Dench, says winning the award was a proud moment for all of them. “It acknowledges the work we do and the passion we have for continuing to Make Hospice Happen. Being a Youth Ambassador is a role of which each of us is extremely proud and we embrace as an opportunity to be socially responsible members of our local community. This award gives us the chance to appeal to other youth to join us in our efforts to support Totara Hospice, spread the word about Hospice care and bridge the gap between pre-conceived ideas about Hospice and the reality of what it means to us and those touched by its services.”

The Youth Ambassador Team dedicates more than 1600 hours of time collectively to Totara Hospice each year – no mean feat for students who are already juggling school and sport commitments.

Chief Executive of Totara Hospice, Tina McCafferty, says the Youth Ambassadors’ dedication to Hospice makes an enormous difference. “Their volunteering contribution fundamentally enables us to continue to host community events and fundraisers. If we were to pay in labour what their volunteering provides, we would have additional operating expenses in excess of $33,000 per year.”

She says Totara Hospice is thrilled to have the hard work of its Ambassadors recognised. “Our Youth Ambassadors are exceptional young leaders – engaging, articulate, passionate and proud. We are very lucky to have them support our Hospice and our wider community and for us to be able to provide them with leadership experiences in return.”


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