Volunteering and being involved in the community is a Kiwi way of life. It's a part of the culture, that's seen as a positive way to contribute to society by giving time and skills to help other people.
Not only do your efforts help those in need and organisations doing some pretty inspiring work, but it fulfils a need to be a part of something bigger than ourselves and leaves us feeling pretty darn good about the effort we've put in. It's great for your personal well-being. In fact, as the University of Auckland puts it;
"Volunteering is good for the mind and the body. It can help counteract the effects of stress and anxiety, increase your self confidence and reduce depression"
Of course, if you're going to volunteer, it's important to do it with an organisation that's legitimate, will look out for your best interests, and means something to you personally.
As part of our healthy home, healthy life series, we're diving into the top 10 Kiwi organisations to volunteer for.
A healthy and holistic lifestyle begins with a healthy home - if you'd like to find out how you can make your home as a healthy as possible, download your very own personalised cleaning guide below.
This is an amazing organisation helping young Kiwis who have had adverse childhood experiences to feel "a little brighter and a little more loved than they did yesterday."
If you're wondering what 'adverse childhood experiences are', they're all defined as major contributing factors for poor youth development that can lead to negative health and social outcomes in adulthood. Specifically;
- Three types of abuse (emotional, physical or sexual)
- Two types of neglect (physical or emotional) and
- Five environmental challenges (having a parent in prison, living with a parent with mental illness, having a parent or close family member negatively affected by drugs or alcohol, divorce/separation of parents and witnessing their mother being the victim of violence)
This amazing organisation runs a mentor program, pairing a hugely diverse range of ages, cultures and backgrounds, with kids who need a little time dedicated to them.
All you need is a good reference, a desire to make a big difference in someone's life, and two hours free per-week. If that sounds like you, you can start the application process here.
Every year, less fortunate families leave their home country to escape life-threatening danger and are desperate for a safe haven. The New Zealand Asylum Seekers Support Trust is an organisation dedicated to offering support, legal advice and advocacy for refugee rights.
"Asylum seekers are people who, because of fear of persecution in their home countries, have crossed international borders in search of protection. No-one chooses to be an asylum seeker." - ASST
If you're wondering how you might be able to help organisations like this, there are two primary options.
- One; through making a donation. The ASST gets no government-sourced funds for the work they do and rely on the generosity of Kiwis.
- Two; through volunteering your time. Currently, there are positions open for prison visitors to head in and chat with detainees, and become a trusted person to confide in.
If you've got understanding or interest in people of other cultures and a refugee background, and three hours per week free, you can apply for the volunteer role, here.
Imagine you're immigrating from a country far away from New Zealand, where there's no Westernisation of values, cultures are different, the healthcare system is different, language is a huge barrier and you're faced with racism and stigma in systematic ways you never anticipated.
It's this exact story that Belong Aotearoa exists to fight. These brilliant people work to address the critical pain points that newcomers experience on their settlement journey, working collaboratively with newcomer communities, government and other organisations in the non-profit and profit sector to innovate and lead initiatives.
The best part about this organisation is that there are a number of ways that you can get involved.
- Every month, Belong Aotearoa holds events to help different areas of immigrant communities, such as job search workshops and taxation and business start up workshops. You can come along to these and help out.
- There's an option to donate to the organisation. Your donations contribute to the various community projects Belong Aotearoa have going on.
- There are also a bunch of volunteer roles available to help support different immigrant groups. From English Teachers, to playgroup hosts, to community assistants - there are a number of opportunities that you can apply for, here.
Not one of the regular food related organisations you'll see promoted, Bellyful is an organisation that focuses on cooking and delivering meals to families with newborn babies and young children who are struggling with illness, where there is little or no family or social support.
It's pretty amazing how it works, too - volunteers prepare the food in a monthly ‘Cookathon’, freeze them and then deliver them over the next few weeks to families who are referred by health professionals, family and friends (if you've got someone who know who could use a helping hand, you can refer them here).
This organisation has actually been supporting young Kiwi families for over ten years, and they can use every pair of helping hands they can get. As usual, if you're short on time you can donate online through their secure donation portal, but if you'd rather roll up your sleeves and get into some community work, there are many different roles available in your local branch. These range from cooking to delivering, from fund-raising to administration, from special projects to leading a Bellyful branch, and more.
If you're a big fan of sports and getting our Kiwi kids out there and exercising, this might be the organisation for you. Special Olympics New Zealand offers a year-round programme of sports training and competition for children and adults with an intellectual disability.
The idea is, through participating in sport, athletes with intellectual disabilities make friends; they gain confidence; they get to be part of a team. It's life changing stuff - and there's currently over 6000 athletes throughout New Zealand enjoying the benefits of Special Olympics New Zealand.
If you'd like to donate, you can do so here. However, this is an awesome project to be a part of, and with such a variety of volunteer roles available from sports coaches, drivers, admin assistants to fundraisers, each requiring a different level of commitment, we'd love to encourage you to get involved.
A Healthy Lifestyle Starts with a Healthy Home
If you're feeling like it's time to focus on feeling healthy, energetic and positive, take a look at the other blogs in our healthy home, healthy life series.
Remember, it all starts with a clean and hygienic home, so if you'd like to find out how you can make your home as a healthy as possible, download your free personalised cleaning guide, below.