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Migrant volunteers to be recognised for their work in capital

Mar 30th, 2014 | By | Category: Diversity, Front Page Layout, Lead Story, News

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VOLUNTEERS CONNECTED: Lakshmi Priya Sivapalan and Charlie Devenish at Volunteer Wellington.

THE ENRICHING experiences of volunteers in Wellington will be heard at a different awards ceremony next week.

Twenty-five new migrants have been nominated to receive a certificate at the Volunteer Connect Awards on Monday.

The annual event celebrates the contributions new migrants have made towards the Wellington community through voluntary work.

The Volunteer Connect Awards is a joint project run by non-profit organisations who help people to find voluntary work in over 400 community groups around the region.

These organisations include Volunteer Wellington, Wellington Settlement Support, the Citizens Advice Bureau and the Job Mentoring Service.

Volunteer Wellington is one of the organisations which helps a diverse group of people find the support, work experience and advice they need to settle into their new home.

Its mission statement is “to create opportunities for meaningful engagement in the community through volunteering”.

This year the criteria for nominating a new migrant is different from the previous three years.

Each volunteer has been nominated by their employer, and nominees were asked four questions about their voluntary experiences.

Their answers will be shared at the awards evening in the hope of inspiring other new migrants.

Questions included whether they enjoyed their volunteer work, if they had built networks in the community, if the experience has helped them achieve their goals and whether they felt more connected to their community.

Lakshmi Priya Sivapalan is one of the 25 new migrants who will be awarded on Monday for her work in the Wellington community.

Ms Sivapalan has been living in Wellington for three-and-a-half years and joined Volunteer Wellington to get involved with the community.

Her role as an interviewer for Volunteer Wellington means she was able to get to know people.

“After coming to a new country, it has been good getting to know all the local terms and that I wouldn’t have known if I had a paid job,” she says.

The organisation not only helps migrants find volunteer work but also helps students, office people and visitors.

Ms Sivapalan says Volunteer Wellington is a good starting point for new migrants and Pauline Harper, co-manager of Volunteer Wellington agrees.

“Volunteers can see that it’s worthwhile and they will have a certificate to show to new employers,” she says.

“It really lifts their spirits and it’s very enriching.”

Ms Harper also says the Volunteer Connect Awards is a good chance for people to get together and connect with each other.

“Migrants know there’s support out there or they can refer other people so that they can be equipped to live a full life,” she says.

“The organisations are realising what a great project this is too.”

Volunteer Wellington receives around 500 applications from new migrants seeking voluntary work every year.

In a recent visit to Wellington universities this year, 40 students registered become volunteers with Volunteer Wellington at Victoria University and 25 from Massey University.

Volunteering opportunities are listed on its database and appropriate roles are given to their applicants based on their interests and goals.

The voluntary hours are usually just a few hours a week.

Volunteer Wellington also trains and manages the community organisations who employ volunteers.

These organisations include Access Radio, CanTeen, Girl Guiding New Zealand and Youthline.

Charlie Devenish, Volunteer Wellington co-ordinator says the organisation caters to all diverse groups.

“We encourage roles inclusive of diversity: ethnicity, accessibility, intellectually and availability,” he says.

The Volunteer Connect Awards will be held at the Southern Cross on Abel Smith Street from 4:30pm.

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is a student journalist studying at Whitireia in Welington. She is keen on keeping up with the news and writing stories that will have impact in the community. She is currently reporting stories within the Brooklyn area. She is interested in using multi-media in the news room.
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