Volunteering stories

Check out what some of our volunteers and their friends have been up to together in our latest volunteering stories

Auckland

Kaye (right) has volunteered with IHC for two years and her friendship with Margaret has blossomed during this time. Their usual outings together involve lots of chatting, giggles and most importantly Margaret’s favourite - milkshakes. Over lockdown their friendship stayed strong. Kaye phoned Margaret to arrange a time to drop off some homemade Russian fudge. Kaye knows Margaret has a sweet tooth so she made some especially for her and left it on the front steps, keeping socially distanced. By the next time they spoke Margaret had finished the lot and kindly requested Kaye to make more! They can’t wait for the New Year and are looking forward to seeing each other for a milkshake again.

Counties

Heather (right) and Susie have been friends since 2019. After some time in hospital, Susie moved from her residential home to a small rest home with just 18 residents in Papakura. She's enjoying her new surroundings. Auckland was in lockdown when she first moved to the rest home so Heather was only able to drop small packages of things for Susie at reception. They can now meet on the rest home deck and have had a great catch-up. Heather said it was lovely to see Susie, "she’s just the same”. Heather now books the deck for regular visits.

Waikato

Louise (left) and Katrina were really pleased to be able to meet up again after lockdown. As soon as the weather allowed, they had a picnic and a good catch-up in Katrina's backyard. They enjoyed her garden, which was looking particularly pretty, and her animals (guinea pigs and chickens) - which they are both interested in and enjoy talking about. That's why they get on so well!

Tauranga

After picking up the goodie bags at the Tauranga end-of-year event Sara immediately dropped off David’s to him. He was very happy to see her. Sara made David’s Christmas card – pictured here – and they will soon organise a time to swap their cards.

i-Volunteer

Ngahuia and Rosie (inside screen) have been friends for three months and connect on a WhatsApp video call most Monday afternoons. Rosie says she looks forward to chatting with Ngahuia every week, and Ngahuia likes to share her brightly coloured paintings. Recently they have enjoyed dressing up to match the colours of Ngahuia’s paintings which is a really fun way to start the week. For this meeting they even turned up in matching yellow hats!

Wellington

Hayden has been in the friendship programme for just over a year. He said his friend Matt is a good guy. "I have fun with him. I look forward to seeing him.” Hayden has had some memorable moments and particularly enjoyed watching the Hurricanes play. He has created a list of some exciting and new activities for 2022!

Canterbury

Anna and Bernadette have been friends for more than five years and Anna says that Bernie will always be in her life. Six months ago Bernie moved into a flat, and Anna says that Bernie has become much more independent since moving. Both ladies have busy lives so they usually meet up every 2-3 weeks. They enjoy taking Anna’s dog for walks, going plant shopping and sometimes doing errands together.

Dunedin

Fiona (left) and Jennifer have been friends for a year now. Jennifer has just completed her studies in Dunedin and is moving north to begin new adventures in New Plymouth. With the weather improving, they've been making the most of their last few meetings with walks along the esplanade at St Clair. They will miss each other but are thankful for the opportunity to have made a new friend.

Invercargill

Lockdown has been hard but it is great to see how our volunteers are keeping in touch with their friends. Jill and David recently celebrated two years of friendship and they have been reminiscing about some of the fun times they have had. This photo shows their celebration on St Patrick's day last year and it still brings a smile to their faces. They are looking forward to getting out and about over the glorious Southland summer.

Invercargill

Lockdown has made it hard for us to meet up but it is great to see how volunteers are keeping in contact with their friends by phone and other means.

This is Darren (left) and Shane (right)and they recently celebrated two years of friendship. Darren has been in contact with Shane and they have been reminiscing about some of the fun times they have had.

Shane is really looking forward to getting back cycling with his friend and going out and exploring the beautiful beaches of Southland this summer.

Dunedin

It's that time again - when Dunedin volunteers and their friends connect at their end-of-year event. This year the group met at one of New Zealand’s most iconic landmarks, Larnach Castle. With perfect weather, they enjoyed a (socially distanced) tour of the spectacular and award-winning gardens, followed by a morning tea in the ballroom. Many in the group had never visited the castle before so this opportunity was an absolute treat.

Canterbury

Maxine and Teresa have been friends for more than four years. Maxine says that Teresa has been in her ‘bubble’ throughout the lockdowns. They have walked through New Brighton and along the pier, and they meet up once a week or fortnight. Teresa sometimes rings Maxine in between times. Recently they have been meeting up for a cuppa - Teresa is a fan of vanilla coke and Maxine enjoys a coffee.

Wellington

Shona and Martin have been friends for a couple of years now. Here they are heading out before we went into lockdown. They're hoping to get back to regular outings very soon.

i-Volunteer

This is Darren talking to his i-Volunteer friend Dylan (on screen) on a WhatsApp video call. They usually chat on Monday nights and catch up with what’s happening and have a few laughs. Darren enjoys hearing about Dylan’s new baby and the rest of his family, and there’s lots of talk about PS4 games. Darren’s support staff say they have noticed a real difference in him since the beginning of this friendship and want to thank Dylan for “bringing a smile back to Darren’s face.”

Waikato

Teressa (left) and Suu (right) were matched in a friendship about five months ago. They hit it off immediately and thought it was a lucky sign for their friendship when a rainbow appeared on their first meeting. They started off by getting to know each other when they met for chats and walks. Then COVID lockdowns interfered with their ability to see each other in person but they kept chatting on social media. Recently they were excited to find out they can now meet up in person again, as long as it's done safely, and they're looking forward to enjoying a walk and picnic in the local park.

Tauranga

Amanda (left) attended a pink ribbon walk with Robyn (right) to show support for breast cancer. Both had a great time and Robyn enjoyed singing to the music and waving to cars along the way.

Counties

When Chantelle (left) and Shanae (right) catch up, they run errands, go shopping and spend time with their dogs. Recently they attended the Franklin Young Farmers Club 'Bark-Up' where local dogs compete on stage in a variety of events. Before lockdown Shanae had been visiting the gym and working on her fitness. She's looking forward to adding a bit of exercise into their catch-ups but lockdown has put some of their plans on hold. In level 4 they were catching up on video calls and in level 3 they've been able to meet and take their dogs for a walk. They're hoping to visit the water lily ponds at Wrights Water Gardens in Patumahoe when conditions allow.

Auckland & North Shore

Suzanne and Peter have been friends for two years and when they aren’t in lockdown, they catch up frequently. They have missed each other immensely over lockdown and have had to become creative to stay connected. Suzanne knows how much Peter loves magazines and books so she kindly dropped some off to him. They can't wait to catch up in person over a coffee or maybe even head out to see a movie.

Auckland & North Shore

Tim (volunteer) and Michael are great friends and the continued lockdown in Auckland hasn’t stopped them from staying close. They're catching up with calls and texts and keeping updated on what’s happening in their lives. As they live not far from one another, Tim has dropped a few bacon and egg pies to Michael and some lemons from his garden. Michael can’t wait to see Tim again but these small gestures while they wait have helped them keep connected.

Counties

Ella and Tegan (pictured) have become firm friends since they were matched nine months ago. Ella often brings Tegan to her house where Tegan plays with the dog and the chickens. Tegan loves baking, so they often do some together and enjoy eating what they have made. Tegan also loves to go out for a hot chocolate. They're both disappointed they're unable to catch up during lockdown but are hoping for better times ahead. This summer Ella would like to take Tegan to the Botanical Gardens or Ambury Park, but wants to wait until the weather is just right so she really enjoys the experience.

Tauranga

Darin (volunteer) and Noel have been friends for a while now. Darin recently moved to a new house and Noel misplaced his number. Noel contacted Volunteer Co-ordinator, Berenice, to get the new number. Berenice called Darin just to check the new number was correct and his wife Shelley answered. Shelley also has a volunteer friend, Sabrina, and Berenice asked how their friendship was going during lockdown. Shelley said that Sabrina is still teaching her Spanish so when they text or talk on Facebook Shelley always responds in Spanish. She says thank goodness for Google! Darin and Noel are now back on track.

Waikato

Judy (left) and Juliana (right) have been enjoying their friendship for over a year now and normally like to spend their time together catching up over coffee at a local café, browsing the shops or going to the movies or a show. Lockdowns and restrictions mean they haven't been able to do these things, but they have managed to stay in touch by regular Skyping. Judy is a real pro at this because she has always Skyped her family in Australia. Hopefully things will soon be back to normal and they can get out and about because this is what they both really enjoy and what makes their friendship special.

i-Volunteer

Nicole (bottom) and her i-Volunteer Ella (top) were introduced recently and their friendship is off to a great start. Ella says they are getting more comfortable chatting to each other and share lots of laughs. They usually connect by Zoom which has meant that Ella has been able to meet Nicole’s mum and flatmate, and they occasionally exchange emails too. Nicole says it's nice to have a new friend, “It was good meeting Ella. She's awesome and I like her.”

Wellington

Before the COVID restrictions came into effect Robyn (right) and Dellys (left) had lunch in Kelburn and then took a walk to the lookout near the Cable Car. Here they are in front of a stunning view of Wellington.

Canterbury

Lynn (right) and his friend Noel (left) have been friends for two and a half years. They really enjoy catching up and often spend time gardening together which they love. They chat as they garden and it's great for them to grow vegetables for the house. Noel also likes to plant flowers for his wife and the rest of the house to enjoy too.

Dunedin

Caitlin (right) and Grace (left) were introduced in June this year and were looking forward to shopping, bowling, aqua jogging and lunch dates. While they haven't been able to get together in recent months, the pair have continued to develop their relationship over Zoom and have had lots of laughs.

Invercargill

Putaau (right) and Eleanor (left) have recently celebrated one year of friendship. Eleanor has been in contact with Putaau and they have been reminiscing about some of the fun times they have had during the year. Putaau is really looking forward to going fishing and taking trips to the beach this summer. Exciting times ahead!

Tauranga

A word from Volunteer Coordinator, Berenice... "During level 4 lockdown in Tauranga we had to get creative with our catch-ups. Pictured here is volunteer, Gretchen (left), and myself catching up. Gretchen said that she and her friend, Ann, had plans to go for a coffee that day but sadly they couldn’t meet and so instead they were going to have a coffee break phone call."

Counties

Carolyn (left) and Margaret have been friends since 2012. They like to spend time together around Pukekohe visiting the shops and going for drives. Margaret is happy to accompany Carolyn as she goes on her errands and over the years has also got to know Carolyn’s family. Margaret lives independently with the assistance of a carer.

In August plans were hatched, with the help of her carer Barbara, for a big celebration to mark Margaret's 80th birthday. A new outfit had been purchased and a booking made at a café in Pukekohe for a luncheon. The following day Carolyn was going to take Margaret to Devonport for a birthday outing. Unfortunately, COVID delayed these plans. Carolyn was able to liaise with the carer and drop a care package to Margaret’s lawn and she calls her every second day.

No-one is looking forward to the end of lockdown more than Margaret so the celebrations can begin!

Auckland & North Shore

Katie and Caitlin have been friends for five years and have a lovely friendship. Katie enjoys the mall and really wanted to check out some new shops. Caitlin took Katie out and they enjoyed a McDonalds lunch and a browse around the mall. They had a great time and Katie got some new items. Caitlin is in her final year of med school and still makes time to see Katie every fortnight. She is a great example of a volunteer who is committed to the programme and has gained a true friend in the process.

Canterbury

Wayne and his friend Tom were matched at the end of July. They're are both keen volunteers at the Travis Wetland Nature Heritage Park in Christchurch and that's how they first became friends. Wayne then applied to become a volunteer with the IHC friendship programme and he was matched with Tom. During August, Wayne and Tom enjoyed visiting the Mike Pero Motorcycle Museum (pictured), then they went on to visit the Air Force Museum before sitting down for a cuppa and returning home.

Wellington

IHC volunteer, Natalie (top right) has been keeping in touch with her friend, Kate (bottom) during lockdown. Natalie says, “Zoom has been a good source of connection and has also allowed us to plan future meet-ups when the levels go down.” On this occasion Kate invited her boyfriend, Adrian (top left) to join their Zoom chat and introduced him to Natalie. It was a 'thumbs-up' moment all round!

Waikato

Calum is a huge truck enthusiast and was delighted when he was matched to Luca, who works at a drilling business where there are lots of trucks. Their first friendship get-together was visiting Luca’s workplace and getting up and personal with the various trucks on site. Calum has also enjoyed going to the local café and having chats about his favourite past-time, his online truck driving game, which he has introduced to Luca. This online activity and regular catch-ups with Luca, either by phone (like in the photo above) or Facebook, helped make lockdown so much easier. Calum can’t wait until they can see each other again because he says it's great to have a friend who understands his passion for trucks.

Invercargill

Just before lockdown, Invercargill's newest volunteer friendship got underway. Nic (left) and Raylene have big plans. On bad weather days they're going to bake, do cross stitch and crochet, and watch some movies. On nice days they're looking at going out for a drive and grabbing a coffee. They also aim to take the dog for a walk. Great times ahead!

Dunedin

Meet Dunedin’s newest skill-based volunteer, Hannah (right) and her friend, Sandy. Pictured at the stunning St Clair beach, Hannah and Sandy were matched earlier in August and will be heading out and about to work on Sandy’s photography skills. Sandy can’t wait to print some new pictures and put them on her bedroom wall.

i-Volunteer

It’s been a busy time for the i-Volunteer team. This group of new i-Volunteers have just completed their training and have been matched with their friends. They'll connect with them over the next week or so. Some are connecting by phone, some by WhatsApp and some by Facebook Messenger video chat. We're looking forward to hearing how their friendships are going.

Auckland and North Shore

Michael and Alex have been friends for many years. Alex loves basketball and recently won his basketball game for the Special Olympics regional competition. He showed Michael his medal and they celebrated and watched the new Space Jam movie together.

Counties

Marie and Tara have been friends since 2018. They enjoy walking in the Hunua Regional Park and Botanic Gardens, visiting the mall for a shake and checking out the shops. Every now and then Marie organises a bigger trip, like to the Sky Tower.

Recently Marie and Tara couldn't see each other for a few months but when they reconnected it was like they had never been apart. Marie says of all the friendships in her life, her friendship with Tara is the most open, honest and simple. And Tara doesn't want the day to end when they spend time together.

i-Volunteer

Volunteer Ashleigh (pictured) from Dunedin chats with her friend Jen from Tauranga over the phone most weeks. Ashleigh goes skiing and surfing - which Jen thinks is crazy in these cold winter months. Jen is great at knitting and spends a lot of her time knitting baby hats. Ashleigh enjoys talking to Jen about her knitting and they also like to chat about the weather in their different cities and what they have planned for the coming week.

Tauranga

Elliot (left) and Steven (right) were matched recently and they're enjoying getting to know each other. They had a coffee at Steven’s favourite coffee shop for their first outing. They're planning to go ten-pin bowling, bowling and just hang out once lockdown is over. Elliot is very excited to have a new friend and can’t wait to share their experiences with all his friend’s family.

Waikato

Olivia (left) and Jenna (right) were matched together just a couple of months ago. Jenna lives on her own and has family and other people to support her but really likes having a friend to hang out with and have fun. They both enjoy going for walks, visiting cafes and browsing the shops. The Warehouse and $2 shops are their favourites to visit because of the bargains and the opportunity to look at all the dress-ups.

Jenna loves trying these on and getting cool photos. She is very interested in photography, taking videos and making albums on her computer. What a great way to record memories of their friendship!

Canterbury

It was cold during one of their recent meet-ups so Sarah and her volunteer Wendy made some yummy biscuits. As you can see, Sarah’s flatmate William enjoyed helping too!

Dunedin

Sandra (left) and Georgia (right) have been friends for over a year and have done all sorts of things together. Sandra takes photos wherever they go so they've built up quite a collection and they've made this fantastic scrapbook of their memories.

Invercargill

Poodle (centre) and Leanne are celebrating 10 years of friendship doing things like disc golf, going out for coffee or having a meal. Recently they got together and started making Christmas decorations. They were very pleased with their wonderful creations.

Tauranga

Congratulations to Duncan Wilsher who received a Volunteer Bay of Plenty Award at the VolFest cocktail event on 25 June. Duncan has volunteered with IHC since February 2017, when he met his friend, Neville. Throughout the years, Duncan and Neville have spent a lot of time together and built a strong connection and friendship. Neville's mother Sharon says Duncan is a truly worthy candidate. Sharon says the friendship is awesome because Duncan does activities that that they can’t do with him. “It helps Nev get out and about with someone his own age,” says Sharon.

Invercargill

Our Invercargill volunteers also recently celebrated National Volunteer Week. In the deep south it can be cold in winter and everyone loves to get together for a movie. Our volunteers gathered together for a movie afternoon and everyone had a great time. They hired an old converted theatre with a big movie screen. The team loved watching our NVW video before the main feature while snacking on icecream and popcorn.

Waikato

Ruby and Tiffany recently attended Splashy Art to paint a pottery piece. They have done lots of activities since meeting almost a year ago – including visiting a farm, going to a concert, attending a dance performance and going out for meals and browsing the shops. Their friendship is all about getting out, doing and seeing new things, having someone to share these moments with and creating happy memories.

Canterbury

Colette and Soon were matched in a friendship about six weeks ago. They have been out and about around Christchurch, going for a cuppa, out to Pegasus Bay Winery and have already formed a great friendship. Colette’s brother is so pleased that Colette now has a volunteer friend, and he says he has seen the change in Colette – she is way more outgoing and lively with her brother over the phone, and he thinks the outings that Soon has taken her on are terrific.

Waikato

Jenna and Raeleen have been matched together in friendship for just two months now and are having a great time getting to know each other. They both like getting out and having fun and doing different things. As well as café catch ups and browsing the shops, they have managed to fit in a fun time at the zoo when it was a fine day. Because Jenna wasn’t able to attend the recent pottery painting event held by IHC, Jenna made a special effort to also put that on their list of fun things to do. Raeleen was so delighted to have the opportunity to get to paint a mug.

Dunedin

National Volunteer Week 2021 was celebrated out on the water. A group of Dunedin volunteers spent an afternoon viewing nature's wonders with an amazing wildlife cruise along the Otago Peninsula. The group was lucky enough to encounter dolphins, albatross, penguins, sea lions, fur seals and an array of various bird life.

Invercargill

Anne and Asmi have just met as part of IHC's volunteer friendship programme and have already made lots of plans. They love to go out walking around the parks of Invercargill and heading out for a drive. With winter now here they also enjoy going to a warm cafe for a coffee. They are both keen to go to the gym together too.

Canterbury

Sarah and Kingsley have been matched in a friendship for a month now – they are both keen cyclists and recently visited the Botanical Gardens together. The pair looks forward to many more adventures together.

Counties

Margie and her Roanne are about to celebrate their 15th year of being friends. Margie likes to hang out with Roanne at her house, look at magazines, have her nails painted and spend times with her friends and family. They also love to visit different cafes and try different foods. When they last got together, Margie got a scrapbook to record the memories they create.

Dunedin

Marine and Karen were first introduced in April. Both are fun-loving people with interests in nature and arts/crafts. It was fitting that their first outing was to St Clair Beach where they enjoyed a stroll along the promenade and took in nature's beauty. Naturally, hot chocolates and muffins were needed to complete the occasion.

Wellington

You can’t beat Wellington on a good day! Seen here are Matt and Hayden who enjoyed the sunshine at a recent Hurricanes game at Sky Stadium.

Find out more about volunteering

Play a big part in the life of a person with an intellectual disability and the work IHC does by becoming a volunteer.