How many do volunteer work in your suburb?

02:21, Jun 11 2014

Prosperous Cantabrians are more likely to volunteer than the less affluent, a Press analysis of 2013 census data shows.

On average, 17.4 per cent of residents in hill and prosperous flat suburbs donate their time to groups, organisations and marae. On average, about 11.5 per cent of residents of less affluent areas donate their time, the analysis shows.

Residents of Banks Peninsula and Lyttelton Harbour were notably free with their time. More than 30 per cent of Akaroa residents donated time to an organisation, group or marae, the highest rate in Christchurch.

Little River, Port Levy, Diamond Harbour and Governors Bay all landed in the top 10, with voluntary rates above 20 per cent.

Suburbs affected by the earthquakes and demolitions were among those likely to volunteer less.

"We know that people in eastern suburbs - where they are still struggling with earthquake issues - have absolutely had it and don't have any energy left to offer to anybody else," Volunteering Canterbury manager Ruth Gardner said.


"People who are reasonably comfortable in their own lives have more chance of doing something else."

That profile fits Keith Walker. Retired from Placemakers, he volunteers at Pathway Charitable Group on prisoner reintegration and as a driver for an addiction treatment group. "I'm 72 years old and I've learned more about drugs and alcohol in the last six years" than in the previous 66," he said.

"They're all good guys. Just like you and me, they've got a choice . . . and their choices have been the wrong ones.

"I wouldn't call myself rich, no way. I'm just an average joe, second marriage, inherited a second lot of kids and grandkids," the Redwood resident said.

Walker has been nominated for a Volunteering Canterbury 2014 recognition award, as has Barbara James.

She's has been involved with netball for almost 60 years, including volunteering at the Christchurch netball centre every Saturday for 18 years. "I like the company and the kids."

She didn't realise in her playing days that the sport was run by volunteers. When that dawned, she decided to "give something back". James was knocked out of her Dallington home by the quakes and now lives in north Canterbury. "I'm not a rich person. I'd do anything for anyone. You don't have to be rich to volunteer," she said.

The 2013 census asked questions about unpaid work and helping, including caring for family members.

The Press excluded family care, concentrating instead on a category called "Other helping or voluntary work for or through any organisation, group or marae". That was compared to measures from the University of Otago called "socioeconomic deprivation units".

Gardener believed the census didn't pick up all unpaid work.

"A lot of people don't realise they're volunteering," she said.

People doing unpaid work on committees, boards and involved in sport "see it as part of citizenship, not as voluntary work", she said.

National Volunteering Week runs June 15-21. Canterbury award winners will be named next Wednesday.


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