Blenheim support worker, Jim Thomas, has volunteered for Victim Support for 12 years. Before that, he worked as Service Coordinator for the Marlborough region for seven years; a long-term commitment to an organisation he says would not have been possible without backup.
“I couldn’t do what I do without the support of my wife, Raewyn. To go out in the middle of the night on callouts, etc. That support has been crucial to the work I’m doing,” he says.
Jim joined Victim Support in 2001 following his retirement from a 40 year career in banking.
“I wanted to do some work in the community, and I saw the Service Coordinator job advertised. It was 25 hours a week, and I thought that’ll suit me. At that time, I carried a pager 24/7 and then I’d have to ring round to find a volunteer available for a callout. It was a bit tough calling people in the night.”
Jim brought with him a background of volunteer work after joining the Lions Club in Morrinsville in 1980.
“I joined the Lions, and that gave me a taste of volunteering. I was always very happy to help in the community with things that were going on – Victim Support was just an extension of that.”
Jim believes his role is to listen and gently encourage clients to take steps to help themselves, and reluctantly admits he has personal strengths that help him do that.
“I’m a people person I guess, and I hope I have empathy that I take with me into these situations. I am also non-judgemental when dealing with clients,” he says.
According to Jim, satisfaction in the support worker role comes from seeing people coming back to normal after crime or trauma and accepting their new life. He also acknowledges that everything the volunteers achieve is the result of a team effort.
“The people that I have worked with along the way have made a big impression. People like April Marshall (Area Manager Tasman/Canterbury), and more recently, I have appreciated the support of Donna Smith (Victim Support Service Coordinator).
“The other people that none of us can do without is the Police. They are very supportive of us.”
Jim’s exceptional commitment was recently recognised with the award of a Queen’s Service Medal for services to Victim Support and the community in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2020.