Sharon is part of the Newcomers Network in Cromwell, which helps people who are new to the area connect with others. She explains how volunteering plays an important role in this.

Volunteering is what “floats my boat’, so I encourage all our newcomers to get involved with volunteer activities. Volunteering is an excellent way to connect with other like-minded individuals or wider community causes. The intrinsic rewards (such as the feel good factor) can have a positive influence on all areas of one’s life, especially around mental health and wellness.

We arrange some of our newcomer events around volunteer causes. For example, at Challenge Wanaka, we had a team look after athletes on a section and had heaps of fun doing it. We have supported other community groups with their appeals, such as RSA Poppy Day. We have also involved ourselves in community events like Light up Winter. This year a new event to Cromwell was the Greenway Festival, where every group was asked to run an old-fashioned activity and showcase what their group does. We showcased an international flavour with our newcomers making cultural food samples which we gave away to people who visited our stall. This was our way of promoting and encouraging diversity.

As a group, I think we are most proud of our Mucking In Crew. This is when we come together to help fellow newcomers who have experienced adverse events at a time when they don’t have the friendship and family networks that have been traditionally available to them. One example of this is a health issue requiring surgery – we will muck in to do practical things like gardening, cooking, or supporting the person during rehabilitation.

Newcomers Network Cromwell

Interactive Volunteer Stories Map

This story was shared as part of our interactive map of volunteer stories from across Aotearoa, which we launched during #NVW2019. This map is filled with stories from volunteers throughout Aotearoa, New Zealand. This map celebrates the contribution of volunteers in their communities throughout Aotearoa. It aims to inspire people to engage in volunteering, Mahi Aroha and social action and to realise the benefits of weaving their communities together through their actions.