Dunedin Plunket volunteers “aim to be the village for those who are missing theirs”

A group of people around a table at a cafe

Whānau Āwhina Plunket are committed to supporting whānau and their tamariki to thrive Their Dunedin Home Help Service currently has 38 volunteers who support young whānau in their homes with light housework, help caring for children, and companionship. Home help service coordinator Josie Garner shares just how vital these volunteers are and how special their impact can be.

"Our amazing volunteers fill a gap that many organisations can see but can’t help with themselves. For our Plunket Nurses, but also midwives, NICU nurses, preschool teachers, social workers and other community organisations working with young whānau, the home help service provides an extra layer of support for their clients, easing pressure at home which then positively impacts other areas of whānau's lives."

"We are not meant to raise our children alone, but as our communities become more diverse, many whānau are missing their own natural support systems. We aim to be the village for those who are missing theirs."

"Some volunteers join us to give back to their community, some for work experience or as a requirement for their studies, but all are united by their understanding of the importance of the service. Some volunteers have been through their own hard times raising children and say they wish they had support like this, or that they would have been lost without their family support and don’t know how others cope without it."

"Other volunteers speak of friends or family who have been through their own struggles, which has inspired them to want to also help others going through tough times. This strong belief in the importance of a community for young whānau inspires our volunteers to provide incredible, empathetic, non-judgmental support, which is definitely worth celebrating."

"I could provide many, but my favourite feedback was from a Mum really struggling with postnatal depression. She summed up her feelings about her volunteer very succinctly; 'She is my superwoman'."

"Within our community, there are those who want to lend a hand, and those who need a hand up. By weaving these groups together, we enable our volunteers to truly strengthen our community with their incredible mahi. I tell the whānau we support that our volunteers provide the same care and support as a mother, aunt, or sister would, and volunteers often tell me they feel like part of the family. Volunteers and whānau often build lasting relationships and remain friends after their time with the service ends."

Learn more about the Home Help volunteer role here.