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Volunteering 'a privilege'

Over the years Sally has worked as a nurse, volunteered for her local Rotary Club, and volunteered for the Cancer Society. She’s just become a Justice of the Peace, volunteers for St John overseeing a team of 60 volunteers, and is a volunteer support worker for Victim Support. To put it simply: Sally loves being busy.

“I like being busy and I like helping people – my friends will say ‘ask Sally, she’ll do it!’ and I usually will!” she laughs.

Sally was initially drawn to volunteering for Victim Support after organising for a Victim Support service coordinator to speak to her team of volunteers at St John. “The coordinator who came along and spoke was really amazing,” Sally recalls. “I immediately thought – I could do that! I just need a bit more spare time!”

That spare time came in mid-2020 when she stepped back from some other commitments and felt ready to take on the role of volunteer support worker.

For someone like Sally, who has been with St John since she was a cadet and worked as an ambulance officer for many years, supporting people in times of crisis feels like second nature.

The challenge, she says, has been learning how to step back. “As an ambulance officer you’re a first responder – as a volunteer support worker with Victim Support, you’re a second responder.”

“We’re not there in the face of an emergency. We’re the calm voice on the phone afterwards.”

Building connections with victims while they navigate grief and trauma is, for Sally, an incredibly special opportunity. “Just getting to chat with people, it’s a privilege that they allow us to listen to them,” she says.

She recalls a victim she spoke with over the phone for six months: “just the other day I said to them ‘this is the first time since we’ve been speaking that you’ve sounded really bright and happy’”. It’s at that point, she says, that she knows their journey together is almost over.

“It’s very unique,” she says. “You get a lot back but it’s nothing tangible. You do it because you want to do it, not for anything in return.”