With International Volunteer Day (IVD2018) coming up on 5 December, we’ve asked some organisations to share how their volunteers help build resilient communities, which is the theme of IVD 2018. Here we talk to Shaun Greaves, General Manager – Humanitarian Development at New Zealand Red Cross, about their volunteers and the incredible impact they’re having on communities.
1. Can you talk a bit about you role? How are you involved with volunteers?
New Zealand Red Cross has 15,000 members, many of whom give up their time to volunteer to support a number of different activities across the country. As General Manager for Humanitarian Development I work with people who volunteer from the Far North to Invercargill in activities that support vulnerable people, in turn building resilience and encouraging communities to mobilise around humanitarian causes.
2. What do the volunteers at Red Cross New Zealand do?
Our people volunteer across a range of activities from delivering a daily meal, getting people to their medical appointments, working with former refugees to help them settle into their new communities, and helping people prepare for and respond to disasters and emergencies. As part of the world’s largest humanitarian network, New Zealand Red Cross is founded on seven Fundamental Principles, one of which is voluntary service. Put simply, we would not be able to do what we do without the dedication, goodwill and generosity of thousands of Kiwis who give their time freely to do good in their communities.
3. How do your volunteers help build resilient communities?
Building stronger communities starts at the grassroots and volunteers play a vital part. Whether it’s delivering a meal with a smile to someone who needs it, helping our newest Kiwis get settled in their new homes, or helping communities prepare for and recover from disasters, it all contributes to creating communities that are better connected, kinder and more prepared for whatever shocks and stresses they may face.
4. Can you share a story about one of your volunteers?
One of the best experiences I’ve had in this role was helping with the Breakfast Club at Marfell Community School in New Plymouth. I spent time with Ray Tucker who has coordinated the programme for many years and he is an inspiration. Every weekday a team of people give up their time to prepare and serve breakfast in the school hall kitchen. There’s something on the menu for everyone – porridge, Weetbix, fruit, toast, and Milo are all offered – and there’s no limit to how much the kids can eat. The programme ensures children have enough energy to make it through the school day, especially when some families might struggle to put enough food on the table. Ray gives hundreds of hours a year to the community and is particularly passionate about Breakfast Club. As I worked alongside Ray it was obvious he really believes that every young person needs a good start to the day. He always works with energy and a smile. He is truly an example of someone who gives without thought of return.
5. How different would our communities be without Red Cross New Zealand volunteers?
Volunteering is the lifeblood of New Zealand and it’s impossible to put a price on the value of volunteer efforts across Aotearoa. When someone volunteers for something, they generally do it because they’re passionate about the cause. Volunteering has the potential to make a huge difference when it comes to social isolation, not only for those benefiting directly from the service provided, but also for those who volunteer. International Volunteer Day is an opportunity for us to say a big thank you to all those who help Aotearoa be a caring, kind and compassionate nation, looking out for each other and building stronger and resilient communities.
Thank you Shaun for providing a valuable insight into the important work of New Zealand Red Cross volunteers.