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People Making Changes 41 -
The Canterbury Volunteer Centre

Dorothy - 31/3/00

The Canterbury Volunteer Centre - where volunteer work is promoted and supported.

Many people who have sought new experiences and contacts or who have had time to spare have found that being a volunteer has been a fulfilling growth experience.

What is the Canterbury Volunteer Centre?
The Canterbury Volunteer Centre is a registered Charitable Trust. It is a community resource which maintains a register of not-for-profit community agencies providing a service dependent on volunteer commitment.

What do the staff at the Centre do?
Ruth Gardner, the Centre's Manager, explained, "Information and referral form part of our service. We give volunteer clients an outline of the opportunities available and any other information they need.

"Agencies register the positions they seek to fill with the Centre, providing information about their organisation and objectives, and job descriptions for the various tasks their volunteers will be required to undertake."

Ruth emphasised that the Centre is not providing volunteers to reduce the paid staffing in the organisations. "We register only positions which clearly have not been waged," she says. "The Centre makes every effort to uphold the rights of volunteers to ensure they are not disadvantaged in their working environment or used to displace paid workers. We provide training, information and advocacy on all aspects of volunteering."

A wide network and many clients
In the Centre's ten years of operation, some 9,000 people have been referred to volunteer positions. Currently there are 220 agencies registered, offering several hundred volunteer positions. "We stress to our volunteer clients the importance of having thorough discussion with our staff before considering the options and/or making a choice. The Centre is open for interviewing and follow-up discussions five days each week, between 10 a.m. and 3.30 p.m.

Volunteers are referred to agencies for an interview where the agency will expand on the information provided by the Centre. It is important for clients to feel welcome to return to the Centre for further discussion and another referral if the first is not successful.

From volunteering to paid work
An extensive survey of the registered volunteers has shown that volunteer work was a vital first step towards paid employment for 28% of respondents.

Both organisations and volunteers benefit.
Many volunteers continue to work for the same organisation for long periods. They get great satisfaction from knowing that they are doing much needed work. They also make friends among staff, other volunteers and clients of the organisation.

Volunteer Recognition Awards
Each year the Centre gives Volunteer Recognition Awards to people who have given outstanding volunteer service. A study of this year's recipients soon shows the quality of these people's work and the wide range of organisations that have benefited from it.

Recipients in 2000 and the groups they have assisted

Activities for the young
Michelle Dyer and Jackie Hilton have worked for their local Plunket sub-branches since 1992 and for the Family Centres Management Committee.

Rosemary Marks is a volunteer at the Linwood Community Child Care Centre and is willing to tackle all sorts of jobs from reading to the children to cleaning up the grounds.

Eve Wood has worked for many years for Guiding, leading a Brownie group and acting as District Coordinator for Woodend and country areas.

David Mardon has worked for the Boys' Brigade for forty eight years holding local and national positions in four New Zealand cities.

Pam Hughes has worked for the After School Programme, Waltham Out of School Hours, since she initiated it in 1990, and has been convenor for OSCAR, the support agency for all the Out of School programmes, establishing the OSCAR Network and working for the National OSCAR training and the OSCAR Code of ethics.

Andrew Inglis has given time four days a week to the Drop In Centre of the Youth and Cultural Development Society.

Support for older people
Berwyn Odering has been a fortnightly minibus driver for Age Concern's outings for the elderly since 1975 and has taken out over four thousand passengers.

Karen Cath has been a volunteer for the Alzheimers Society for twelve years and co-facilitates a carers' support group in Rangiora.

Cecil Garland has been a volunteer driver for the Hornby Day Care Trust since 1990.

The Harakeke Club Volunteers - seventeen men and women - work with two paid staff and assist in running a day care centre for people with dementia. Some have worked with the club for nine years.

Work with helping agencies
Twenty volunteer members of Christchurch Women's Refuge operate a twenty-four hour, seven day a week telephone service offering

Handiscope supervisors accept the award from the Mayor of Christchurch,
Garry Moore, on behalf of their group.
Handiscope supervisors accept the award from the Mayor of Christchurch, Garry Moore, on behalf of their group.
Photo source Volunteer Centre
support, advocacy and referral for women and children experiencing domestic violence.

Handiscope Centres once a week offer facilities for craftwork, recreation and companionship for people. They are entirely run by their volunteers.

At the Christchurch City Mission Connie Hawley has worked in the Opportunity shop every Monday for seventeen years and Ray Darlinson has worked in the furniture shop for six years.

Alison Smith works part time in the administration department of CCS doing data entry, clerical work, and reception.

Through the Churches Hospital Support Trust Ngaire Wade and her late husband Stan have for more than twenty three years been befriending two men originally at the Templeton Centre and now in the community.

Louisa Liao has volunteered as a befriender for the Delta Friendship Link which provides social activities for people with intellectual disabilities. She has also recruited, trained, supported and co-ordinated befriender volunteers from the International Buddhist Association.

Care for animals and birds
The Orana Park Volunteer Group consists of eighty five volunteers who mainly act as guides to visitors. Over the past twelve months the group has contributed 29,300 hours of voluntary work to the Park

Louisa Liao receives her award from the Mayor.
Louisa Liao receives her award from the Mayor.
Photo source Volunteer Centre
- an average of 443 hours per volunteer, the equivalent of three months' paid work.

Eight volunteers have contributed a total of at least 120,00 hours of work, much of it hard physical labour, to develop the Birdlands Sanctuary near Little River.

Work for the Museum
The Clifford Collection Indexing Group contributed over 10,000 voluntary hours to the Canterbury Museum compiling the first public index to the H. H. Clifford Collection of 120,000 photographic portraits. The negatives which had been stored in a garden shed for fifty years before being handed to the Museum had to be handled with care and skill. Among them was the original negative for the portrait of Kate Sheppard which appears on the New Zealand ten dollar bill.

Outreach beyond New Zealand
Mary Lowes has been a dedicated worker as a World Vision Volunteer Worker since 1986, being involved in promotional work and adminstration, especially for the annual Forty Hour Famine.

A wide range of activities
The wide range of activities of these volunteers gives some indication of the varied areas in which help is needed.

Volunteers of all ages are welcomed.
The Centre works to ensure that people of all ages realise the mutual benefits of volunteering. Forty percent of those approaching the Centre are under twenty five. Older volunteers are also needed, particularly those with experience in administration. Do give thought to offering your skills to organisations needing help.

Centres throughout New Zealand
If you are interested in volunteering contact a Volunteer Centre. Currently, in New Zealand, there are thirteen Volunteer Centres situated in Dunedin, Oamaru, Christchurch, Nelson, Wellington, New Plymouth, South Taranaki, Waitara, Hamilton, Waihi, Auckland and Whangarei. All of these provide an information and referral service.

2001 The International Year of Volunteers
Next year is set down by the United Nations as the International Year of Volunteers and plans for celebrations are under way.

For up-to-date news of events and more information about volunteering go to the Canterbury Volunteer Centre website

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