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Making Social Justice a Top Priority Drives Age Concern Volunteer

Volunteers are one of the most important parts of the operations of Age Concern Wellington Region as they enable us to reach seniors all over the Wellington Region. Sheila is one of our valued volunteers managing the Pop-up Hub for Seniors at the Community Centre in Manners Street. She shares her story and reasons for volunteering with us.
While sitting together enjoying coffee in a Wellington Cafe, (she also admits being particular about her coffee), her face lights up as we chat about seniors and how to advocate for equal inclusion in society. When asked what drives her to continue to volunteer the answer is a resounding “Social Justice”.

Sheila came to NZ in 1981 from the UK, she had two children and the family grew up in the suburb of Karori where she still lives today. She worked for a number of organisations all aiming to decrease Elder Abuse in our community and has seen or heard about most of the negative behaviours affecting seniors in Wellington during her work experience in the sector.
After 20 years working with Wellington City Mission, she joined Age Concern in 2014. Working under the Elder Abuse and Neglect Prevention Contract, she admits it was probably the most fulfilling and rewarding role she had performed. The contract wound up in 2020 and Sheila retired just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. She says she couldn’t believe the increase in demand for Age Concern services during the pandemic and how it highlighted the number of isolated older people in the Wellington Region.

Through her experiences volunteering, she understood that helping in the background with pouring teas and handing out food allows the group leader the space to see and hear what the need is within the group.
From the moment she considered retirement, Sheila says she knew that offering her services to Age Concern would be another notch in her volunteering belt. She was already leading a senior group at her church in Karori, volunteering at Welfare Guardians Wellington, CanBead, and the duties with Age Concern at the Manner Street coffee group fitted perfectly. She also keeps busy doing exercise like our Steady As You Go falls prevention class and a Spin Poi class at Te Pokapū Hapori. Sheila is an active person and that’s just how she likes it! However, she makes time to spend one day a week with her four grandchildren, which she has done since each of them was born – what lucky kids.

Sheila says volunteering ensures that she is fully occupied, challenged, and that she finds achievement in her daily activities. She says she likes to do something useful to help others and to strive for equal value and inclusion in society. She advocates for social justice for seniors being a top priority and has made a number of valuable friendships while achieving her selfless goals.

I’d call these worthy reasons to volunteer, and Age Concern is just one of the lucky recipients of Sheila’s time and genuine caring nature.

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