Holiday helping hands

By: Caitlin Watson

The school and university holidays are around the corner. For school students this means six weeks of freedom and university students are more spoiled, with approximately three months of time with their head out of the books.

What can young people do with all this time? While relaxing, socialising and enjoying our Coast summer are top of the to do list, this is also a great opportunity to get involved with some volunteer work. While, for some, this time is spent working a summer job, for others the phrase “I’m bored” can become a prominent part of the daily vocabulary.

However, did you know that each year more than one million New Zealanders participate in volunteering? I feel quite proud that so many people generously and willingly make a critical contribution to the non-profit sector.

Statistics NZ notes that formal volunteering within the 115,000 voluntary and community sector organisations, contributed $4 billion to the economy in 2018 (for context, this is on par with the construction sector).

The benefits of volunteering include developing greater community connections, learning new skills, expanding social networks, becoming work ready, supporting a cause and giving back to the community.

Speaking from personal experience, volunteering has given me great satisfaction, skill development opportunities and the immense joy of feeling a part of making things happen in our community. In fact, my volunteering has even led to paid employment opportunities.
Others my age have said that volunteering has given them purpose and drive at vulnerable points of their life. It can help counteract the effects of stress and anxiety, increase self-confidence and reduce depression.  It’s a well-known fact that helping others often makes people feel happier, as giving is a basic human need and behaviour – the more you do it, the better you feel!

As the holidays loom and young people suddenly have all this extra time on their hands – there is no better opportunity to get involved in the community and lend a helping hand.
Local organisations to consider include Whangaparāoa Library – the Youth Librarian is wanting to develop youth-led interest groups. The Hope Shop – a charity shop in Manly Village that supports Youth in Transition; and Love Soup who prepare food packages for those in need.


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