Community Scoop

Community connectors

nicola_2018-200x300Nicola Sutton

Chief Executive, English Language Partners New Zealand

 “How can I meet new people? How can I connect?” a migrant newcomer asked herself after arriving in New Zealand knowing no one.

The answer to both questions was ‘volunteering’. An online search led her to volunteering opportunities which immediately paid off with a warm welcome and the positive energy that came from getting involved. She has continued to volunteer and has herself been the recipient of services from volunteers. “Volunteering has transformed my life, it has brought out the positive pieces in me,” she said.

Like many others, English Language Partners celebrated national volunteer week. Over 1,700 of our volunteers teach new Kiwis English for work and life here. They help former refugees and migrants learn the everyday language needed to socialise, talk to neighbours, work colleagues, teachers and doctors.

Volunteers tell us they feel they get more from the experience than they give. One volunteer put it this way: “I absolutely love it. Even if I have a bad day at work, I enjoy meeting my learner. It is the best volunteer job.”

In recent years an increasing number of our new volunteers are from migrant or former refugee backgrounds. They benefit by meeting new people and using their skills and New Zealand benefits by the contribution they make. Having people connect and participate is a way of weaving people together and making communities strong.

We encourage community organisations and local government to take on board the ideas in the recently launched national strategy to support inclusive volunteering for recent migrants. It will benefit your communities and contribute to making New Zealand safer and more inclusive. A copy can be downloaded from


This blog has been contributed by a member of the ComVoices network. The views presented here are not necessarily those of ComVoices.

 ComVoices is a Wellington based network of national community and voluntary sector organisations. It was established so that sector organisations would have a more powerful voice at Government level and in the community.

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