When Gurpreet Singh arrived in New Zealand in 2016, he had all the challenges facing a recent migrant in trying to settle his family, but still found time to become a volunteer Victim Support Worker.
A doctor in his native India, Gurpreet wanted to use any free time he had to help others in his new home country. He sees this is as a part of his professional and spiritual journey.
“We have our spiritual learning about working selflessly for people in need – it’s called Seva. It’s a foundation in our spirituality,” says Gurpreet.
Gurpreet completed his training as a Support Worker in Counties Manukau. The training enabled Gurpreet to work on all types of cases and support the diverse communities that make up the area.
“It was really valuable having Gurpreet as a fluent Punjabi speaker to support the specific needs of that community,” says Counties Manukau Area Manager, Grace Chan-Nualilitia.
He moved to Napier in 2017 where he was soon on the Victim Support Hawke’s Bay roster.
Gurpreet has since helped many Hawke’s Bay people on their road to recovery from lives impacted by crime and trauma. He acknowledges his role is a unique combination of emotional support and practical advice, quite different from his work as a medical professional.
“I could use my knowledge or training as a doctor to help victims, but I’m working for Victim Support and the objectives are different,” he says.
“My background helps me to understand how anxiety and depression go along with something like post-traumatic stress. There are similarities as well but the most important thing really, is just to listen and try to understand what people are feeling.”
Gurpreet feels his own perspective as a doctor connects very well with Victim Support’s Te Whare Tapa Whā service delivery model.
“It’s an holistic approach where you’re treating the person as a whole – not just defining them by one thing. With “Te Whare Tapa Whā’ you explore the family, the spiritual part, the psychological and physical parts. I really love this process.”
“The training Victim Support gave me was amazing. It really prepares you for the role and I think this is something anyone in the community can think about doing.”
In Napier, both Gurpreet and his wife work for Hohepa, a community organisation which offers residential care along with vocational programmes for children, young people, and adults with intellectual disabilities.
“I loved how my work enabled me to help people in India and what I am doing now with Hohepa and Victim Support is the same. It’s about understanding people, giving advice and observing what challenges they may have.”
He is very much motivated by his Support Worker role, with the opportunity it provides to give back to the community, support his spiritual beliefs and to be a positive role model for his family.
His family, especially his eight-year old daughter, Ibadat Kaur, have been incredibly supportive all through the late-night call outs and time spent away training.
“She understands how important it can be for someone to know they are not alone and there is someone who will be there for them,” says Gurpreet.
“My daughter is so proud. It’s a big inspiration for her.”
"I have never felt this satisfied before. It also gives you a six figure pay S-M-I-L-E-S."