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National Volunteer Week: Volunteers The Backbone Of Emergency Response In Aotearoa

This National Volunteer Week, 21 to 27 June, New Zealand Red Cross recognises the immense contribution of volunteers during times of crisis like COVID-19, and every day in their communities. When Aotearoa faces challenging times, Kiwis always step up to support people in need. Volunteers are instrumental in ensuring that we get through, together.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, thousands of volunteers enabled Red Cross’ essential services to continue. Hundreds of Meals on Wheels volunteers continued their essential work delivering 94,032 meals in 33 locations across Aotearoa. Twenty-two teams of disaster response volunteers delivered food and medicine, staffed Community-Based Assessment Centres and phoned 11,662 individuals to provide them with emotional support. Around 1,000 refugee support volunteers provided remote support to new Kiwis, including sharing Easter dinners over video chat, reading bed-time stories to former refugee children and helping to establish self-isolation plans.

Even after lockdown, the hard work of our volunteers continues, with people giving their time to pack Red Cross Parcels and write ‘Letters of Kindness’ to people feeling isolated due to COVID-19.

New Zealand Red Cross’ Secretary General, Niamh Lawless, says the work of Red Cross would not be possible without the efforts of the amazing people who volunteer their time with us.

“Every day, a network of 11,000 Red Cross volunteers and members across the country help us respond to disasters, settle new Kiwis, help run our shops, deliver Meals on Wheels, teach former refugees how to drive, sew curtains for families in need, and so much more. Last financial year, Red Cross volunteers gave close to 120,000 hours of their time. They are the hands and feet of almost everything we accomplish,” she says.

“With voluntary service being one of the seven Fundamental Principles of the international Red Cross Red Crescent Movement, volunteering has always been at the core of Red Cross, and always will be. We are hugely grateful to everyone who volunteers their time with us.”

New Zealand Red Cross is always on the lookout for energetic and dedicated people to volunteer with us in our humanitarian efforts. Anyone interested can visit our website redcross.org.nz/volunteer.

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