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Scotty’s Volunteer Star Shines Brightest On The Highway

Scotty Harvey. Photo/Supplied

Scotty Harvey is a social worker who doesn’t sit behind a desk to talk to his mental health clients. He’s out on the road every day, parked up to talk to anyone who needs his help through UOKBRO NZ.

Scotty has just been named one of three Star Volunteers by Volunteering Services Bay of Plenty.

He’s a registered social worker who decided to take his services to the people. Starting at Te Puna, he parked up on the side of the road in his sign-written vehicle, and had so many people stopping to talk that he tried the truck stop between Te Puna and Bethlehem. He’s out every day anywhere from Te Puke to Katikati and Ōmokoroa talking to anyone who wants to stop.

“It’s anything from making a safety plan for wāhine who need to get out of a dangerous domestic violence situation, or young men planning to go home and kill themselves, or nannies worried about their moko, or someone wanting to get off meth.

“Wherever I stop people toot, then some will stop to talk. I decide where I’m going when I wake up in the morning. Last week I was in the Waikato, then sat on Totara St to introduce myself to truck drivers. I’ve been down the South Island and Stewart Island. It’s about going to the people instead of people waiting to see someone in an office.”

From April 20 to the end of May Scotty had seen 118 people, dealing with a wide range of issues. He’s been in the mental health system himself and says sitting out “in the middle of nowhere” with his sign gives power to the community to stop and talk.

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It’s about going back to basics, getting people to just come and have a yarn. He says most people don’t want to talk about mental health and services are lacking for those over 25.

He’s a registered charitable trust and is keen to find some funding - but he’d be out there with his vehicle every day anyway, he says.

His nominees described him as “an amazing man who volunteers his time to anyone who might need him. He sits in high traffic places with his cool sign-written car and some picnic chairs for anyone who wants to stop and just talk”.

“I have no doubt UOK BRO will save someone’s / many people's lives. It may seem like such a small gesture, but I think it will have a huge impact! And all of his own time and dime. Legend!”

For Scotty, it’s about getting rid of the “system” and referral process and bringing therapeutic counseling to the people, where they need it, no matter where or when.

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