Volunteering, a growing trend

Volunteering is a growing trend in New Zealand, with opportunities to suit everyone – from teen volunteers to retirees.

Volunteer centres throughout the country report a 10 to 25 per cent increases in volunteers, says Leisa de Klerk, who manages Dunedin and Waitaki for Volunteer South, a charitable trust that connects volunteers with volunteering opportunities.

The volunteers’ profile is changing too, she says.

While volunteering is often perceived as the realm of retired people, last year, women aged between 30 and 59 in full-time employment, were the most likely age group to volunteer.

An expression of the increasing interest in volunteering is the 100+ volunteers, who each week, give their time to help positively connect with some of the 41,000 New Zealanders doing it tough reports Orange Sky.

“It (Orange Sky) is a service that many people may not realise is necessary”, says Eddie Uini is the organisation’s manager and sole employee.

Orange Sky vans provide a mobile free laundry and shower service. The people they target are experiencing homelessness or living in cars and overcrowded housing.

“Most of us assume we’ll put on a set of clean clothes every day. But when a person is homeless, access to bathing and laundry facilities is usually difficult”, Uini says.

For many homeless people, their clothes can be their most precious possessions and sometimes they have only one set.

Uini says it is a joy to be able to provide support in such as practical and encouraging way.

“When we started out, some clients said it was their first shower in months”, he said.

Volunteers connect with clients through genuine and non-judgemental conversation.

While the person is doing their laundry, the volunteers with them and chat – it’s a simple opportunity for everyday people to connect in a safe, positive and supportive environment, Uini says.

The increasing level of volunteer involvement is a source of encouragement for Uini.

“The long-term dream is to have an Orange Sky van visiting every town that needs it”,  he says.

Uini says Orange Sky is a fledgeling outreach and while expanding through the kind generosity of financial donors and volunteers, the organisation is taking the expansion one step at a time.



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News category: New Zealand.

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