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What does being a member of the Disaster Welfare and Support Team involve?
I have been with the team now for a year and have been involved in a range of activities. They are a cohesive, welltrained team that are very professional, so it is really rewarding being a part of that. I have been involved in some first aid support and I was sent to the Mataura flood response to do house-to-house needs assessments. Operational tasks like this are really rewarding but the Dunedin DWST also get involved in other Red Cross activities such as Red Rose Day. Selling roses in the hospital foyer really showed me how highly the Red Cross is regarded across the community.
What inspired you to get involved?
I used to work for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in emergency logistics and had a bit to do with the Red Cross teams. So when I moved back to New Zealand, I was keen to get involved in some form of community support – Red Cross, and DWST in particular, seemed a good place to start.
What do you know now that you didn’t when you started volunteering?
The outreach work is something I have learnt a great deal about, especially with the pandemic and lockdown. I did some phone support during lockdown and it reinforced how important this work is across a whole range of situations – it is an extremely useful life skill as well.
What is your favourite part about being a Red Cross member?
There are so many levels to this. At the local level, being part of the Dunedin DWST is brilliant – it is quite an honour to volunteer with such a capable group of people. Bigger picture, it is great to be part of an international organisation that is so highly respected across the globe, especially here in New Zealand where everyone I talk to holds Red Cross in high regard. You can be very proud to say you belong to Red Cross.
Do you have a favourite moment from your Red Cross volunteering?
There are so many – hauling a stretcher up a sand dune in the pouring rain, helping people affected by the Mataura floods, and seeing so many people happily support the Red Cross on Red Rose Day.
What do you currently do as part of the Visitor Care Customer service team?
I work in the Visitor Care Manaaki Manuhiri contact centre, where we deal with enquiries and conduct needs assessments for people needing support with warm clothing and bedding, fuel, phone top-ups and the like. It’s extremely rewarding work with a great team across the whole programme. It takes a mix of skills but puts into effect our PFA (Psychological First Aid) training and the ability to listen to people’s concerns in these difficult times - a perfect fit for Red Cross I reckon. Also, as I come from a field background myself, I especially enjoy working with the Red Cross Service Centres, face-to-face teams and social workers out there delivering the support on the ground. All in all, we are doing good things and that is something to be proud of.