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Kia ora Whanganui River City Press readers - This week is National Volunteers Week – a time to acknowledge and celebrate those in our community who generously give of their time, skills and care in helping others. So I popped to visit Sandra Rickey at Volunteer (Mahi Aroha) Whanganui. She advises that Volunteer Whanganui supports 106 organisations and with 901 volunteers, has the highest rate per capita in New Zealand.  This is awesome as it’s indicative of leadership in our communities - not only about the worthy cause, it’s also about people inspiring and leading the way.

In December 2017 Statistics NZ produced survey results from 2016 that 1 in 2 New Zealanders volunteered either for an organization or by helping a person from another household. There are at least 1.23 million NZ volunteers. This adds up to 13.5 million hours monthly and 162 million hours a year. Volunteers provide the equivalent of approximately $3.5 billion to our GDP. Impressive stuff. Volunteers are often referred to as the mortar holding the bricks of the community together playing a vital (and often unseen) role in keeping our communities running.

In Whanganui our volunteer rate in the sport sector is also higher than the National average. A report commissioned by Sport New Zealand and published in 2015 found that in the 2013/14 year around 3 out of 10 adults in Whanganui region (30.1% or around 16,000) took on one or more volunteer roles to support a sport and recreation activity.

This compares with 28.6% of New Zealand adults. Like many of you, I am one of those volunteers having given considerable time and effort over the years coaching, managing, fund-raising, cooking, catering, event-running, mucking, cleaning up, hands-on, hard (& heart) out helping our local sports , schools, clubs communities.

Volunteering can also be a meaningful lead-in other meaningful experiences. Employers often look for the efforts of voluntary service as worthy and reflective of the individual as a team player.  The experience of volunteering is doubly enriching and rewarding - for others and self.  Maybe this is something you’d like to consider. If so, give Volunteer Whanganui a call on 347 9430 or check out their Facebook page -  https://www.facebook.com/volunteerwhanganui/.

Finally, my private members Bill, the Health and Safety at Work (Volunteer Associations) Amendment Bill,  passed its first reading and is now before Select Committee. This Bill amends the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 to allow volunteer associations that ‘employ’ a person or persons for no greater than 100 hours per week to be excluded from the definition of a person conducting a business or undertaking. This will have a significant resource-savings impact for our volunteer organisations. I look forward to my legislative amendment contribution as a MP making a better and pragmatic difference for the better of our voluntary sector.

Until next time, go well

Ma te wa…..

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