VNZ in the News

Volunteering Beats Depression

This World Health Day, Volunteering New Zealand recognises the thousands of volunteers working throughout New Zealand to beat depression.

World Health Day is linked to Goal 3 of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which seeks to ‘ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all’. Depression, the theme for 2017, impacts more than 300 million people worldwide, an 18% increase between 2005 and 2015.

“Volunteers are a vital part of the solution to beating depression” states Scott Miller, Chief Executive of Volunteering New Zealand. “The work volunteer-organisations do across health, social services and sports to support people living with depression cannot be undervalued” Miller adds.

One such organisation supporting people dealing with depression is Youthline, which offers channels such as a 24/7 free phone hotline, and support via text, email, web chat and, in some areas, face to face support for young people who wish to access help.

Last year Youthline was supported by over 60, 000 volunteer hours. Stephen Bell, Youthline Auckland CEO acknowledges their work “we would never connect with as many young people as we do without our dedicated volunteer team, they are core to our work in communities.”

“The Youthline model is to develop young people who then provide services back to their local communities. The volunteers who take the journey to become Helpline counsellors, and support others through tough times are courageous and generous, I cannot commend them enough,” says Bell.

Volunteering New Zealand recognises the importance of The Mental Health Foundation’s Five Ways to Wellbeing resource, which reminds all of us how we can improve our wellbeing:

• giving (including your time);

• learning (including embracing new experiences);

• getting active out of the house;

• being mindful and reflecting on what matters to you; and

• connecting with others.

Volunteering New Zealand (VNZ) is an association of national volunteer-involving organisations that have a commitment to volunteering. Their mission is to maximise the impact of volunteering in our communities.

Volunteering plays a role in water quality

Volunteering New Zealand marks World Water Day today by promoting the ways and means volunteers ensure safe and clean water both domestically and internationally.

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 6.3 calls on New Zealanders to “improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally.”

The Bonn Call to Action from 2016 calls for volunteers to be a part of the solution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, stating “We recognise that communities must be at the centre of their own development.”

The theme of this year’s World Water Day is wastewater. UN Water, the United Nations interagency mechanism for all freshwater issues, promotes the need to treat and reuse wastewater at home, in our cities and in agriculture. Globally, over 80% of the wastewater generated by society flows back into the ecosystem without being treated and reused.

Volunteering New Zealand (VNZ) and the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) support the role volunteers and volunteering will play in maintaining water quality. Citizen scientists for example, are helping local councils and community groups by extending water quality monitoring and embracing restoration programmes.

In fact, NIWA declares that citizen science monitoring of water is a win-win for scientists and volunteers—one gains access to new data, and the other the skills and confidence to become involved in discussions over what is happening to their streams, according to a December 2016 NIWA release of a study, led by freshwater ecologist Dr Richard Storey.

Dr Storey said public participation in citizen science monitoring, has increased dramatically around the world in the past 20 years. “We think that if communities are involved with the monitoring, that will lead to a better understanding of stream values and better equip them to get involved with freshwater planning processes,” he said following his recent study.

“VNZ is excited about citizen science as it can go beyond the crowd-sourcing of their data, building partnerships between the scientists, local councils and the broader community,” VNZ Chief Executive Scott Miller says. “We see it as New Zealanders mobilising to get involved in the issues that affect them.”

© Copyright 2015 Volunteering New Zealand Incorporated