What does being a member of the Disaster Welfare and Support Team involve?

Being a Disaster Welfare and Support Team (DWST) member is a three-year commitment – but of course, it doesn’t need to be limited to that. We are required to attend weekly training, as completing all necessary training is required to make us eligible for deployment during emergencies. We also engage in joint training with other DWST members around the country whenever possible.

As an emergency responder, our work is focused mainly on the Psychological First Aid (PFA) space. We help the Civil Defence open and manage welfare centres, whenever necessary.

What inspired you to get involved?

I have always been a volunteer, and I wanted to continue serving the community. I started as an ambulance volunteer when I was 15yrs old, then I volunteered with the fire service when I turned 40. I also volunteer my time with the Ministry of Fisheries, the Maketu Ongatoro Wetland Society, Civil Defence and several other committees and projects.  They all have been a progression and a perceived concept of right fit for the stage of life and a worthy and noble cause.

What is your favourite part about being a Red Cross member?

My favourite is the opportunity to be part of a team of dedicated individuals who are focused on helping people in need, making a difference in the community.

Do you have a favourite moment from your Red Cross volunteering?

All aspects and occasions have their own highlights – being present in every moment would be my highlight.

What do you do as part of the Visitor Care team?

I am the Team Lead for Visitor Care in Bay of Plenty. I shadow lead for voucher distribution and organising volunteers in our region. I help manage all aspects of the Visitor Care project in the Rotorua sub-hub. I also drink lots of coffee!

What do you like most about the Visitor Care project?

I appreciate how this project seems like a good logical transition from what we have been doing in response to COVID-19 since we first went into lockdown – we identify groups of people who are in need and providing them some support, making a difference in their lives.