With the Christmas holidays almost upon us, it is a good opportunity to take time to pause and reflect.

Last week I attended the Mental Health 101 workshop. I wanted to incorporate some of the tools from this workshop into our own training for volunteers who interact with clients who may experience distress. At this workshop, the importance to stop and pause every so often to maintain good mental health was highlighted.

Whilst it’s important to stop and pause to recharge the body and mind, it’s also important to stop and pause to reflect on your practice. All too often we get carried away by the tasks at hand and Covey’s quadrant 2 activities are put aside.

I was therefore grateful that I had an opportunity to attend IAVE’s Asia Pacific Volunteering conference. This conference provided plenty of food for thought to reflect on where we are at both at the organisations I am involved in and volunteering in general and what to focus on for the future.

There were a few examples of organisations who are wanting to engage a wider group of people. Many organisations have ongoing volunteer roles that provide well needed services in various communities. But as we all know, these roles don’t necessarily work for all people who are keen and ready to make a difference.

(That volunteers are looking for short-term commitment and that it is hard to find long-term volunteers was also one of the themes coming out of the State of Volunteering in New Zealand 2016 report).

Habitat for Humanity Asia Pacific has set up a youth leaders programme to address this challenge. They work with young people who themselves come up with projects and programmes they want to be involved in and through this, Habitat for Humanity realised that they stay engaged and connected in a variety of ways.

Red Cross Australia talk about the action spectrum. There are many people who want to do a little and a few people who want to do a lot. They are currently actively looking at ways how they can ‘harness’ these “many people” who want to do a little.

Both presentations highlighted that organisations need to shift their focus from our own internal the requirements of our own organisations to harnessing the ideas and initiatives of individuals in our communities.

I hope the summer holiday will provide you with an opportunity to stop and pause to recharge, as well as time to reflect on past achievements and future aspirations. I will certainly reflect on how at the Cancer Society we can shift our focus.


Take time to pause and reflect

Helga Wientjes

Volunteering NZ Chairperson

Helga is the Capacity and Development Manager at the Cancer Society of New Zealand. Helga has 10 years of experience of establishing supportive environments for volunteering in the not-for-profit and government sectors and is also on the advisory committee of her local timebank.