My name is Matt, I’m 22 and have been hanging out with my friend Duncan who I met through the IHC Volunteer Friendship Programme in Wellington for over a year now.

The IHC Volunteer Friendship Programme is all about developing genuine friendships between volunteers and a person with an intellectual disability. Friends are encouraged to spend time in their community enjoying activities and hobbies that they’re both interested in together.

Duncan and I met in the beginning of 2018 and we haven’t looked back! We like to go out and socialise together over a beer (or two), catch a new release movie – or an old classic, go out for dinner and even just hang out at home and chat. We have such similar interests so it’s easy to find things we both like to do – the hard part is deciding in which order to do them.

Our friendship is something really special we’ve built together over the past year. What was initially an opportunity for me to give back to the community, has helped me find a genuine friend and someone I not only am able to support, but who also supports me. Duncan and I get along terrifically and both feel really comfortable to open up to each other and chat about things we’re going through. It’s not the easiest thing finding someone who you really get along with and trust, so I’m thrilled to have that with Duncan.

Over the period of our friendship, I’ve introduced Duncan to some of my other close friends and family – he’s so easy-going and gets along with everyone. He has a real sense of confidence that just radiates off him so it’s been great introducing him to my friends and hanging out as a group. It’s also been great getting to know Duncan’s parents and I enjoyed meeting some of his close friends at his recent 30th birthday celebrations.

I’m so grateful to have a friend like Duncan and the IHC has done an amazing job with matching us together – they’ve helped to create a friendship that will last forever!

Duncan and Matt
IHC Volunteer Friendship Programme

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.