Celebrating volunteers and increasing older people’s social connectionsSenior Citizens Community and Voluntary Sector
International Volunteer Day every 5 December is an opportunity to thank the many New Zealanders who contribute their time and skills to make our communities better places to live, says Community and Voluntary Sector and Senior Citizens Minister Jo Goodhew.
Mrs Goodhew marked International Volunteer Day 2012 by attending the Napier Connects World Café of local leaders, community groups and service providers.
“I am very grateful to the volunteers all around New Zealand who give so generously of their time and energy to keep our communities ticking over. I believe it is important that everyone takes time on this day to recognise their contribution,” said Mrs Goodhew.
“Volunteers’ contribution cannot be under-estimated. Every year over 1 million volunteers contribute around 270 million hours to their communities. And more importantly they make the everyday lives of many in our communities that little bit better.”
The Napier Connects event was held to discuss new ways to increase the social participation of Napier’s older residents through volunteering.
“We know older people care about their communities and want to make a difference. The range of activities they are involved with make a positive contribution to the lives of others and well as enhancing their own wellbeing,” said Mrs Goodhew.
Napier Connects is an umbrella for community-led activities and projects that aim to encourage older people to become more engaged with their community, while addressing the social isolation that some of them experience. The group was set up after Mrs Goodhew asked the Ministry of Social Development and Department of Internal Affairs to work together to look at ways to reduce social isolation of older people through volunteering.
“The experiences and effects of Napier Connects will be evaluated by the end of June 2013 to find key learnings and provide a framework that can be adapted by other communities,” said Mrs Goodhew.
“The activities Napier Connects already underway, which include walking groups, garden makeovers and student mentoring, are just the beginning. They will help ensure that older people in Napier are connected to their community and are valued and respected.”