‘Mutual Benefits of Volunteering’
The Auckland Regional Migrant Services (ARMS) is celebrating National Volunteer week by recognising the invaluable contribution newcomer and migrant volunteers make to our communities.
Each year in June, New Zealand celebrates National Volunteer Week to recognise and celebrate the vital contribution of New Zealand’s approximately 1.2 million volunteers in areas as diverse as social development, the economy and the environment.
Here at the Auckland Regional Migrant Services, we have been running ‘Workplace Experience Placement’ programme as well as community based Volunteer programmes for the past eleven years, with over 800 participations benefiting from it.
The objective of the programme is to offer local work experience placement, reference and exposure to local work culture for newcomers, while the community volunteer programme focuses on friendship, connecting, and contributing something to the local community. In return, the volunteers bring a range of benefits to the Organisation, such as cultural competence, multilingual capabilities, as well as new skills and ideas.
ARMS Chief Executive, Rochana Sheward is urging the wider business and service provider sector to offer more volunteer opportunities to newcomers and migrants as the benefits are mutually shared.
“We would like to use this opportunity to encourage other businesses and community groups to extend their volunteer programmes to newcomers and migrants as the benefits are equal. While newcomers get local work experience and exposure to NZ work culture, the hosts get multilingual staff support, access to new and skills set, a deeper understanding of diversity as well as additional hands on deck to assist with programme delivery,” said Mrs Sheward.
Jocelyn Buen, a newcomer from the Philippines has been volunteering at ARMS for the past two months.
“Volunteering in ARMS helped me to have a chance to learn about different cultures, it gave me an insight about how a New Zealand organization works. I feel happy that such opportunity is available for a newcomer like me.”
Mila Chivikova, arrived in Auckland as an International Student and after finishing her Post Graduate Diploma in Town Planning and Surveyor, she volunteered at ARMS for 4 months, after which she got a full time job as a Surveyor. Here are her thoughts on volunteering.
“Volunteering at ARMS has helped me learn about different ways of communicating with clients. It also helped me to understand the work culture and learn more about the NZ employment system. I would encourage newcomers to volunteer in order to get a better understanding of how things are at the workplace.”
A few benefits of involving newcomer and migrant volunteers include the following;
Improved Cultural Competence – Culturally diverse volunteers increase the awareness of different cultures within the organisation and society at large, helping improve organisational, staff and service users’ cultural.
Enhanced Culturally Sensitive Service Delivery – they bring new perspectives and skills to the organisation such as the increased awareness of the way of life, beliefs and values of different cultures, leading to improvements in communication and program design, and more culturally sensitive service delivery.
Language Skills – they usually bring to the organisation language skills as they tend to speak more than one language besides English and this in turn can enhance your organisation’s relationships and communication with clients from culturally diverse backgrounds.
Social Inclusion – They encourage and facilitate the creation of an accessible and inclusive volunteer program that reflects the diversity of New Zealand, impacts on all sections of the community and ensures your organisation plays a part in creating more inclusive society.
Welcome Face – Their presence shows a more welcoming face of your organisation to volunteers, service users and the general public.
ARMS also run workshops and training on the ‘Mutual Benefits’ of running a newcomer and migrant volunteer programme for businesses and community groups.