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A simple thank you makes it all worthwhile

A simple thank you makes it all worthwhile

Image of Manaaki Tāngata Victim Support volunteer Rodger Barlow

Working out of our Pukekohe office but resident in Kaiaua on the Firth of Thames, Rodger Barlow came back to Victim Support after a long break and has noticed a huge change in his volunteering. “It’s interesting and quite eye-opening and a lot of it is stuff I’ve never experienced before. It’s totally different from when I worked with Victim Support almost 30 years ago. The training system’s different, the approach is different. The whole thing has improved so much, it’s unbelievable. It’s more professional now.”

"The work is stimulating and it gives me a sense of self-worth."

Since joining Victim Support, Rodger has worked on a number of family harm cases, three suicides, and several sudden deaths. His Day 1 experience particularly sticks in his mind. “My first case was a non-fatal motor vehicle accident. I’d just completed training and it was my first night on call. It was a young fella in his car, it was raining and he managed to hit a power pole at 3am. His young partner had a child and was pregnant with his second one. I went on my own as no support person was available and blundered my way through for about two hours, then the processes fell into place, such as contacting the family, letting them know they had to go to the hospital, organising counselling, and sorting out financial stuff. It turned out alright in the end, but I really didn’t know what I was doing to be honest! Now I would be much better. I’d know the questions to ask, I’d know the people to talk to, and I’d know where to go to get answers.”

An ex-teacher of 50 years, a natural people person, and good listener, Rodger is able to lend a friendly and supportive ear to anyone who needs him. “I’m impartial. I’m not going to make judgements on anything they say or do. If they want to go off about their partner or neighbour, I’m quite happy to listen to them. I’m able to help them if they want to be helped.

“The work is stimulating and it gives me a sense of self-worth. I ring somebody and talk to them for 5 minutes or 10 minutes, I may never speak to them again, but right at the very end they will nearly always say, ‘Thank you for making contact. I feel better.’ That’s the bit that makes it all worthwhile.”

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