New emergency volunteering database out

Volunteer South Dunedin-Waitaki manager Leisa de Klerk. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE
Volunteer South Dunedin-Waitaki manager Leisa de Klerk. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE
Volunteer South has released its new emergency volunteering database.

The database is part of the organisation’s continued efforts to support the wider Southern region with spontaneous volunteers in the event of an emergency.

The database has been launched in direct response to the welfare support provided in collaboration with other organisations during Covid-19 Alert Level 3 and 4 lockdown in March and April.

People will be able to register as an emergency volunteer (EV) through the Volunteer South website at any time.

Volunteer South Dunedin-Waitaki manager Leisa de Klerk said the idea was to match people with certain skills to a specific emergency.

When registering, people would be able to tick checkboxes with their skills and provide relevant information.

"We will then send the correctly skilled people to the area where those skills are needed.

For example, if there was an emergency involving animals, someone listed with skills and experience with animals would be selected, Ms de Klerk said.

"We’re just enabling the emergency organisations to get people that they know will be able to be support right from the get-go."

EVs will be able to update their details regularly and communicate with the Volunteer South team about their skills.

They would have to give their permission for their details to be passed on to the registered emergency operators or community groups.

So far, some of the skills included language translation, data entry and transport co-ordination.

Ms de Klerk said the organisation was keenly aware of the volunteer needs of the wider Southern region, particularly during an emergency.

The increase in awareness around health and safety for those staff involved in emergency response had meant that spontaneous volunteers needed specific direction and a centralised support system.

The development of emergency volunteering within Volunteer South flows on from the organisation’s work in recent years supporting emergency responses to flooding, Covid-19 and more.

"The position of volunteer centres are ideal for this centralised support, as it leaves emergency responders with the task at hand and the co-ordinators at Volunteer South with the ability to support any welfare or emergency response needed."

In 2020, Volunteer South’s activities have been mainly Covid-19 related, with teams supporting the welfare response of local councils in Central Otago and Coastal Otago.

Work has continued well past the welfare response, with volunteers now working with unemployed people and those looking to upskill themselves.

• The emergency volunteering link is now live on the Volunteer South website, visit www.volunteersouth.org.nz/volunteers/emergency-volunteering

jessica.wilson@thestar.co.nz

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