The Wellington Student Volunteer Army is one branch of the nationwide Student Volunteer Army. The Wellington branch is coordinated by a huge group of volunteers, including executives from the Victoria University of Wellington Students Association (VUWSA) and a number of our alumni.
“If you need something done but can’t go outside during the lockdown, the Wellington Volunteer Student Army have stepped up to run these errands and help,” says Joanna Li, Engagement Vice-President at VUWSA. “We want to provide support when and where it’s needed.”
But the Student Volunteer Army’s kaupapa is bigger than that, Joanna says. Instead, it’s about community building, and reminding people they’re not alone during a stressful time.
“An independent team of volunteers handles the initial requests for support received through the website, email, and phone number, and also manages the Facebook group for volunteers,” Joanna says. “Once a request comes through, it gets passed on to the community leader in the relevant area, who then delegates it to one of the volunteers in their community.”
Making this connection in the community is the ultimate goal of the Student Volunteer Army, Joanna says. Once the connection has been made between the right volunteer and the person who needs help, they can work together directly to achieve whatever needs to be done without having to make a new request every time.
“This puts the power and autonomy back into the local community, which is something people often feel like they’ve lost in times like these,” Joanna says. “This is important now more than ever, in a time where the best thing we can do to help fight COVID-19 is to stay home and do nothing.”
“People get to know others in their neighbourhood and, in working together, get to combat the helplessness they may be feeling and feel less alone. We’re hoping these relationships last well after the lockdown period.”
It also helps remind people that good does exist in the world, even during times like these, Joanna says.
“It reminds us that the best way to survive is by relying on each other, not by fending for ourselves,” Joanna says. “There are always people who want to help and who will help. We might be physically distant, but we’re not alone. We’ll get by through reaching out to one another.”
If you need help with anything in Wellington during the lockdown, you can either email firstname.lastname@example.org or put through a request at https://www.vuwsa.org.nz/sva. If you don’t have access to Internet connection, you can also ask for support on 021 256 9987.
Anyone who wants to volunteer can join the Welly Student Volunteer: Covid19 Community Response Facebook group.
The Student Volunteer Army is a nationwide organisation. You can find out about other branches of the Army here.