Learning personal resilience and volunteering

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Damian D’Cruz in action

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Our three speakers Michelle Elborn, Simone Gibson and Bryan Winters.

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Working on Damian’s assignments.

About 40 keen volunteers and potential volunteers turned out to learn about building their personal resilience and opportunities to share their skills in the community at SociaLink’s Feel Good by Doing Good workshop this week.

SociaLink general manager Li Davies said she was really pleased that 17 signed up for volunteering opportunities as a result of the workshop. The event was also the launch of Volunteering Services, the new name for Volunteering Bay of Plenty, now it has become a division of SociaLink.

Keynote speaker, Damian D’Cruz of training company Mindspring, provided a session on key skills in listening, dealing with difficult people, how to connect with others and giving back to your community.

“We know that people volunteer to connect with others and be part of a team, but it also boosts self esteem, teaches new skills and people can feel good about working for a good cause,” he said.

He told the group that maintaining a positive attitude, not dwelling on negativity, getting enough exercise and sleep, avoiding alcohol, drugs and tobacco and volunteering were 50 percent of developing resilience, but the other half was getting support from others.

This included connecting with others, joining clubs and group activities, family support and volunteering to contribute to a good cause, build self esteem and learn new skills.

The attendees learned new skills for listening – ignoring what was going on in your own head, not being distracted, avoiding judgement, leaping to solutions, listening to what you think about what is being said and what it is triggering, and avoiding uncomfortable topics.

Damian gave cues for active listening – using open questions, reflecting, paraphrasing and empathising with the person, as well as monitoring how you look and sound to the person speaking.

The group heard from volunteers Michelle Elborn from Bay Conservation Alliance, which supports
community-led conservation projects. She said many of their volunteers were motivated to do something they were passionate about and commented they had “found their people”.

There were many jobs available that did not mean going out in the field and doing physical work, and many younger people were also attracted to helping the environment.

Bryan Winters teaches surfing to young men through Live For More. He said the organisation dealt with young people at the bottom of the cliff – some had been in jail, used drugs and alcohol. They learned Māoritanga, had counselling and surfing therapy was used to encourage them to live a different life.

Simone Gibson of Good Neighbour said her organisation connected people to support their community through food rescue and community gardens. Food that couldn’t be distributed was sent to the community kitchen to be turned into meals.

Good Neighbour’s Urban Mahi team cleared people’s backyards, helped people move house and addressed various community needs, with about 200 volunteers a week taking part.

“People feel like they come to a place where they belong, make friends and pay back to their community.” The organisation holds a ‘get to know Good Neighbour’ session each month to introduce new volunteers.