Rising petrol price puts bite on volunteers

Charity workers have to 'grin and bear it'

ESTHER ASHBY-COVENTRY
Last updated 05:00 02/07/2013
Jan Marshall
NATASHA MARTIN/Fairfax NZ
THE PRICE OF GENEROUSITY: Jan Marshall has been a Meal on Wheels volunteer for six years and wants to continue despite the increased costs.
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Increasing petrol prices will put strain on volunteers and the charities they work for, says Volunteering Mid and South Canterbury.

Yesterday petrol prices were at a four-month high of about $2.20 a litre for 91-octane. Diesel was not affected.

Volunteering Mid and South Canterbury co-ordinator Lyndall Watt said the higher fuel cost would impact on voluntary organisations' budgets and community vehicles. Some charities and nonprofit organisations had policies on reimbursing volunteers for vehicle use while others did not.

"Volunteers still have to get to where they are going to start what they do," she said.

Senior Citizens president and Citizens Advice Bureau volunteer David Holmes lives in Waimate and does voluntary work in Timaru each week.

He said the last time petrol hit $2.21 a litre he rejigged his commitments so he was not driving as frequently.

"I believe in my volunteer work and will grin and bear it."

Mr Holmes is concerned for other volunteers and said he would bring up the issue of reimbursement at the next Senior Citizens' board meeting.

Meals on Wheels volunteers receive 50c contribution from the South Canterbury District Health Board for each meal they deliver.

Board general manager of primary and community services Fiona Pimm said an increase had not yet been discussed.

Jan Marshall has been a Meals on Wheels volunteer for six years and said she wants to continue delivering despite the cost increase.

"I would hate to stop. I deliver to some lovely ladies and I would miss not seeing them."

Another volunteer, who did not want to be named, said when he started a few years ago he had done so without the knowledge of the 50 cent contribution so it would not affect him. Lyn Thompson said he gave his to Timaru Suburban Lions.

Other volunteers who were unlikely to change their input were from the Cancer Society of New Zealand Canterbury-West Coast division. Manager Gabrielle Hall said the organisation reimbursed its 30 drivers 53c a kilometre so cancer patients could get to their appointments, and that was not being adjusted.

"Volunteers do it because they're making a difference," she said.

The petrol prive rise is the result of government hiking its excise tax by 3c a litre. The increase is the first of three duringr three years, aimed to keep up with inflationary costs of road maintenance, subsidising public transport, and road safety.

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- The Timaru Herald

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