Volunteering – a pathway to paid employment

How will volunteering help you?

Volunteering is a great way to help your community by doing unpaid work while learning new skills, keeping socially connected, and, potentially, finding paid employment.

People from all walks of life have used volunteering as a step to finding their first or a new job. It helps people to maintain or develop skills and gain work experiences that employers are looking for. There are a surprising variety of volunteer roles available in areas as diverse as music, sports, law, administration, education and retail, to name a few. You're bound to find something that's both interesting and relevant to your chosen career. We have included some real case studies to illustrate how volunteering can make a difference.

Celina has just had her first baby. She is young and determined to provide a stable income to support her baby and herself. She found a role as a volunteer advocate at a Maori women’s refuge. This role required 10 weeks training which together with the experience she gained and the support of the local volunteer centre, gave her the confidence to approach another community agency and gain a paid position as an administrator. Work and Income provided the initial funding for this role through their Skills Investment Scheme.

Voluntary work also gives you the opportunity to build networks that can help you to find other jobs. The people you work with can act as your referees or may alert you to paid jobs when they become available. People who volunteer have also said they feel more confident when approaching job interviews and other work situations. Okesene’s experience is a good example:

After 25 years working for the railways as an electrical engineer, Okesene was made redundant. He was keen to try something new and had always had an interest in social work. With the help of the local volunteer centre, he found a volunteer position with Wesley Community Action. Like the pieces of a jigsaw falling into place, his confidence was restored through the interesting and challenging work as a volunteer. The team at Wesley soon noticed Okesene’s enthusiasm and he was offered a paid position shortly after starting as a volunteer.

Recent migrants to New Zealand often use volunteering as a way to get local experience to back up their qualifications and improve their English.

Chen moved to New Zealand from China at the age of 17. After finishing a Bachelor of Commerce at Victoria University, he realised that his lack of New Zealand work experience was a barrier to finding a job here. He decided to take up a volunteer position at the Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind. Chen has since found a full time job as a support officer at the Ministry of Social Development. “There are a lot of similarities between the work I did at the Royal NZ Foundation for the Blind and what I do now,” he says. “I feel really satisfied that my voluntary work experience has paid off.”

As well as helping you find paid work, volunteering is fun and rewarding in itself. Giving some of your time can make a big difference in the lives of others. At the same time, you get to meet new people and experience new situations and challenges.

How does volunteering affect your benefit payments?

Doing voluntary work won't necessarily affect your benefit payments. If you have work obligations (either full-time or part-time), you will need to continue looking for permanent paid work, and if a suitable job is found, you will be obliged to take it. Many of the agencies offering volunteer positions are also able to help meet related out of pocket expenses such as the cost of travel to and from the place where you volunteer.

How do I find a volunteering role?

There are several ways to find volunteer positions. You may know of organisations in your community who need volunteers and they would welcome you approaching them to offer your service.

There are 16 Volunteer Centres situated from Auckland in the north to Dunedin in the south. One of their key functions is to help those looking for volunteer positions to find suitable roles. They act as volunteer recruitment agencies matching job-seekers to not-for-profit organisations with vacancies for volunteers. The Volunteer Centres will do a personal face-to-face interview with you to identify your hopes and expectations and discuss the range of possible positions that might be available.

A full list of contact details are given below. You will see that Volunteer Wellington operates centres in Lower Hutt and Porirua. In addition, your local Community Link might also offer a Volunteer Centre interview service on site.

If you wish to make contact by phone, simply call 0800 865 268 and this will connect you to the nearest Volunteer Centre. Or you can find the positions listed by almost all the volunteer centres on their website:

Contact details for Volunteer Centres

Volunteering Whangarei
Suite 11, Municipal Building
71 Bank Street, Whangarei 0110
Ph: 09 945 4984

Volunteering Auckland
70 Khyber Pass Rd, Auckland
PO Box 8814 Symonds St, Auckland
Ph: 09 377 7887
Fax: 09 377 9815

Volunteering Waikato
2nd Floor, Community Building, Caro Street, Hamilton
PO Box 19 111, Hamilton Central
Ph: 07 839 3191

Volunteer Western Bay of Plenty
The Historic Village, 17th Ave West, Tauranga
PO Box 841, Tauranga
Ph: 07 571 3714
Fax: 07 571 3701

Te Whare Hauora o Ngongotaha Trust
(offering volunteer placement services in Rotorua)
172 Ngongotaha Road
PO Box 178, Rotorua 3041
Ph: 07 357 4946
Fax: 07 357 4948

Volunteer Taupo
Waiora House, 129 Spa Road, Taupo
PO Box 595, Taupo 3351
Ph: 07 378 0953
Fax: 07 378 0963

Gisborne Volunteer Centre
336 Palmerston Rd, Gisborne PO Box 105
Ph: 06 868 4522
Fax: 06 868 4522

Volunteering Hawkes Bay
Napier Community House
62 Raffles Street
Napier 4140
Ph: 06 833 6691
Fax: 06 835 3492

Volunteering New Plymouth
1st Floor, Kings Building
36 Devon Street West
New Plymouth
Ph: 06 758 8986

Volunteer Whanganui
Room 206, Community House, 53A Ridgeway St, Whanganui
PO Box 102, Whanganui
Ph: 06 347 9430
Fax: 06 347 9430

Volunteer Resource Centre Manawatu & Districts
Ground Floor, Community House, 77 King Street, Palmerston North
PO Box 12199
Palmerston North 4444
Ph: 0800 865 2687 or 06 354 6027

Wairarapa Volunteer Centre
Wairarapa Community Centre
41 Perry Street, Masterton 5810
Ph: 06 377 1022

Volunteer Kapiti
Kapiti Community Centre
15 Ngahina Street
Paraparaumu 5032
Ph: 04 905 8884

Volunteer Wellington
Level 3, Community House, 84 Willis St, Wellington
PO Box 24 130 Manners St, Wellington
Ph: 04 499 4570
Fax: 04 499 3907

Volunteer Hutt
Sub-centre of Volunteer Wellington
Level 4, 21-23 Andrews Avenue
Lower Hutt
Ph: 04 566 6786
Fax: 04 891 0854

Volunteer Porirua
Sub-centre of Volunteer Wellington
Level 2, Pember House, Porirua
Ph: 04 237 5355

Volunteer Nelson
Suite 6, First Floor
132-134 Bridge Street
PO Box 270
Nelson 7040
Ph: 03 546 7681

Volunteer Marlborough
Marlborough House
21 Henry Street
Blenheim 7201
Ph: 03 577 9388

Volunteering Canterbury
113 Tuam Street, Community House – Te Whakaruruhau ki Otautahi
Christchurch 8011
Ph: 03 366 2442 or 0800 865 268

Volunteering Mid & South Canterbury
27 Strathallan St,
South Canterbury
Ph: 03 687 7364
Fax: 03 688 9972
Freephone: 0800 865 268

Volunteering Otago
Level 1 Community House
283 - 301 Moray Place, Dunedin
Ph: 03 471 6206
Fax: 03 471 6209

Volunteering Central
(Volunteering Otago outreach office Central Lakes District)
PO Box 834, Wanaka
Ph: 03 443 4102
Mob: 027 506 5705

Volunteer South
(Southland Volunteer Centre / Skills Bank)
Southland Community House
46 Kelvin Street, Invercargill 9810
Ph: 03 214 9464