Helen Jackson – Volunteering BOP

Photograph of helen jackson BOP

We recently spoke with Helen Jackson, Volunteer Coordinator for Go Getters – Access in Action group. This amazing lady helped establish the Go Getters Not-for-Profit group five years ago with the mission to help people living with physical disabilities get more out of life.

Go Getters – Access in Action is associated with a community home that provides accommodation and services for 12 people living with a physical disability such as multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy. The residents are aged from 20 to 66 years and require a range of different care. Basic services are provided at the home but Go Getters – Access in Action group is all about providing extra lifestyle activities that are appreciated by the residents.

Helen says the activities of Go Getters – Access in Action are aligned with a wider vision for the City of Tauranga to lead the way through their Disability Strategy to make Tauranga accessible to everybody.

Enriching lives of residents

There are a couple of different ways that Helen and the Go Getters – Access in Action group are helping to enrich the lives of residents at the community home. Firstly, they hold several barbeques throughout the year to raise funds to buy materials that residents can use towards their hobbies.

Secondly community members can volunteer to spend time with residents at the home. Types of activities that you might do as a volunteer include tutoring in Te Reo Maori, gardening, arts and crafts, a trip to Bayfair, a coffee excursion in Greerton Village, music jamming sessions or any other skill or hobby you might be able to share with residents of the home.

Helen says that the one-on-one volunteer sessions really help to make her clients feel valued. “Our residents find the one-on-one sessions with volunteers absolutely uplifting. It gives them a sense of worth to have someone come and spend time with them.”

Through Helen’s efforts as volunteer coordinator and with the help of volunteer, Val Gyde, residents of Tauranga were recently treated to an art display by one of the home’s residents through Creative Bay of Plenty. A feat she says would never have happened without the help of Val who assisted the resident to complete his series of paintings; one of which was sold as a result of the display.

Educating local businesses

Helen is also keen to help educate local businesses on how they can better meet the needs of people living with disabilities. The Go Getters – Access in Action group might do this by issuing a business with a Certificate of Appreciation for doing the right thing when it comes to looking after disabled people, such as opening the doors and making sure their wheelchair has room to move. They may also issue guidelines for businesses to help educate staff about how they can better support people living with disability and their specific needs by promoting disability awareness.

Helen says that Go Getters Access in Action has received wonderful support from Volunteering Bay of Plenty and the wider community. Volunteering Bay of Plenty has been able to help facilitate a number of working bees at the community home. Fulton Hogan also helped the group by adding an extra ramp to help residents get in and out of an office and providing a fence to create a private garden area for the home. Right now, they are looking for a builder to help install a mural that the residents put together as part of a beautification project.

“Without the support of volunteering services, none of this would be possible,” says Helen.