For volunteer support worker Yau, being able to help the Chinese community is a huge motivator.
Yau made the move from Hong Kong to New Zealand in 1999, and in 2012, made the decision to volunteer for Victim Support after seeing an ad in the paper.
Ten years on, and Yau is still just as passionate about supporting people in times of crisis and trauma.
“I enjoy helping people in need and supporting them, being there in those critical moments,” he says. “I especially enjoy working with Chinese victims, as some can’t speak or understand English.”
Yau explains that in these moments, he is able to work as a bridge between the victim and any relevant organisations. “After the incident or trauma they have suffered, there’s a feeling of helplessness – the language barrier can make that even more severe.” Yau speaks both Cantonese and Mandarin, as well as English, so he’s able to communicate with a wide range of victims.
While some of the support Yau provides is just short term – a phone call or a few visits – some cases are a lot longer and require him to build a solid and trusting relationship with the victims he is supporting.
Yau has spent lots of time supporting victims throughout the court process. “Initially there’s the process of preparing for court cases,” he says. “Then supporting the victims through the court case.”
In cases where family members have had to come overseas from China to attend court proceedings, Yau has been able to help the family navigate the process of organising visas, passports, and other travel arrangements.
“Most of them are in New Zealand for the first time, and they don’t know anything about it – especially when they are grieving, it’s a long process that they have to deal with.”
Yau encourages other members of the Chinese community to get involved with volunteering: “as long as you are a capable communicator, empathetic, and have common sense – you will make a great volunteer.”