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Published on 17th August 2011
VSA (Volunteer Service Abroad) has established a new unit to develop partnerships with New Zealand businesses and organisations keen to provide their staff with the opportunity to undertake short-term volunteering assignments.
VSA chief executive officer Deborah Snelson says the main purpose of the partnerships development unit is to make it possible for more New Zealanders to share their skills in developing countries.
“Not everyone is in a position to take up a two-year assignment, and we want to provide New Zealanders with more flexible volunteering opportunities,” she says. “The new unit has been set up to work with private sector and government organisations who are interested in releasing their staff for short-term assignments in the Pacific and Timor Leste.”
She says the unit will mainly focus on establishing partnerships with organisations working in a number of specialised areas, such as agriculture, engineering, urban planning, business mentoring and local government. VSA will scope and develop the assignments, which will then be filled by staff from the New Zealand-based partners.
“The new unit will make it possible for us to access a whole set of skills by collaborating with businesses and organisations who are keen to use volunteering to build staff capacity, while also demonstrating their commitment to social responsibility.”
The partnerships development unit is headed by Ruth Harrison, who took up her position this week. Ms Harrison brings a mix of private sector and government sector experience to the job; she most recently worked for the Department of Internal Affairs where she was responsible for administrating grant funding.
She says she is looking forward to the challenge of taking VSA in a new direction.
“After almost 50 years, VSA has a proven track record as an organisation that responds to changing needs. This latest move is yet another example of that, and I am confident it will give more New Zealanders the opportunity to volunteer.”