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A Call To Reshape The Way We Think About Volunteering

In the wake of lockdown, Volunteering New Zealand is calling on people to reshape the way they think about volunteering. To unite with whānau, friends and workmates to make a group commitment to a community or cause that matters to them.

Covid-19 has put a spotlight on the volunteer sector, says Volunteering New Zealand. It highlighted the sector’s vital contribution to unity, kindness and the wellbeing of New Zealanders. It mobilised younger people to fill in when vulnerable volunteers had to stand down. It saw whānau and friends uniting behind things that mattered most to them.

Covid-19 also highlighted the sector’s vulnerability through a large number of older volunteers who had to stand down during lockdown.

This is not news to those representing the volunteer sector. In a pre-lockdown State of Volunteering survey of the volunteer sector released today, 35.8% of agencies expressed concern over an ageing volunteer workforce. And 36.6% stated a lack of volunteers to be their biggest challenge before lockdown.

“It was clear before lockdown that we needed to reshape the way we think about volunteering,” says Volunteering New Zealand Chief Executive, Michelle Kitney. “Covid-19 has shown how much more potential and power there is in uniting and coming together for a common cause. Doing mahi aroha, work for love in a collective way with your whānau, friends, or workmates is a much more fun and more sustainable way to volunteer. It gives you a common purpose, and helps you grow together. It opens minds, open hearts and brings a shared joy.” Through group volunteering, effort can be shared, gaps can be filled and effort will be more continuous, says Michelle.

Volunteering, mahi aroha and social action are expressions of kindness says Michelle. They help shape the kind of world we want to live in. “Collective mahi aroha is normal in Maori and Pacific communities, and we often see families joining together for some causes, such as tree planting, beach clean-ups or predator trapping.

“It’s now time to back up our existing volunteer base. Let’s not leave it up to those who we think happen to have the time. And let’s not leave it up to chance. This is our moment to re-think, re-prioritise, revive the kindness we know is already in us and unite with our whānau, friends and workmates. Group volunteering will contribute to strengthening our communities to meet challenges (both big and small), to remain connected, to get well, stay well, and to answer the call to unite and be kind.”

The report can be downloaded from Volunteering New Zealand’s website: https://www.volunteeringnz.org.nz/state-of-volunteering-2020/

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