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Turning compassion into action with Victim Support

Turning compassion into action with Victim Support

Four team members from Victim Support smile to camera.

In the heart of our communities, when people are experiencing their darkest moments, there are dedicated individuals who give their time, support, and compassion.

These are the volunteers at Manaaki Tāngata | Victim Support.

Meet Carolyn, one of our remarkable volunteers, who shows the profound impact this role can have—not just on the lives of those we support, but also on volunteers themselves.

“Just having someone independent to talk with who cares, understands, and provides support during a dark time in their lives, can give them the light to keep going.”

The power of empathy and action

Carolyn’s journey with Victim Support began with a desire to do more: “I was already a volunteer with the Citizens Advice Bureau. But what appealed to me about Victim Support, was that I actually get to follow up with the people I help.”

For Carolyn, the fulfilment comes from making a real difference in moments of vulnerability. “The most fulfilling thing is being able to help and empower people in situations where they often feel vulnerable, traumatised and emotional,” she explains.

Carolyn reflects on a woman she supported, Isa*, whose husband passed away suddenly. They had immigrated from the Philippines to New Zealand, and both shared a lifelong dream to live and work here.

When Carolyn rang Isa for the first time, she was distraught. Isa left her support system in the Philippines, but Carolyn was there. “I let her cry; I held that space for her.”

“Isa asked me to call her husband's family, so I did, and found out when they would be there with her.” Carolyn stayed with her until they arrived so she wouldn’t be alone.

The day after Isa’s husband died, she was notified by immigration that she must leave the country.

Carolyn smiles at us with sunglasses on, in front a bright blue sky and Auckland skyline.
Manaaki Tāngata | Victim Support volunteer, Carolyn

“Suddenly she was all alone,” says Carolyn. “She had the trauma of losing her husband on top of having to leave the country, which dashed her hopes and dreams.”

Once again, Carolyn stepped up. She shared our resources on grief and practical matters after death, connected Isa to two Filipino community organisations that could give her support and linked her with the Philippines Consulate in New Zealand to see if they could help her get her husband home.

Using her knowledge from volunteering there, Carolyn also contacted the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). The CAB were able to provide a free immigration advisor to help Isa find ways to leave the country - and come back here to stay.

“She rang me a couple of weeks after her husband’s death to thank me for my support,” Carolyn recalls. “She told me that her immigration advisor continued to support her not only to leave the country but also in exploring immigration options to return to NZ and continue her and her husband’s dream.”

“Having someone to guide and support them through this time empowers and gives them strength to carry on and move through something that can be overwhelming and dark.”

The ripple effect of giving

The transformation through volunteering isn't limited to those helped. Carolyn shares, “I feel a sense of fulfilment. I’m enjoying my life a lot better. It’s helped me to understand a lot more about people. I look at life a bit differently now. I really cherish my family; I don’t take anything for granted.”

The experience has also improved her personal relationships, bringing new perspectives and understanding to familial challenges: “It’s helped with my relationships too, I had a lot of issues with my mum, but now I’m better at seeing things from her perspective.”

Finding something that aligned with her values was important for Carolyn. “My dad taught me about the values of love compassion honesty, integrity, to be non-judgmental and help those in need. Victim Support provides the same space to honour these values.”

Being at the frontline

What sets Victim Support apart, according to Carolyn, is the nature of the support we offer.

Our volunteers get to connect with victims directly—from providing immediate emotional support and practical assistance to supporting them through the criminal justice system and connecting them with specialist agencies for long-term support.

Carolyn also values the educational side of volunteering: “I’m interested in the legal system and court. This way I get to learn more and be more involved with my community.”

“I feel a sense of fulfilment. I’m enjoying my life a lot better."

Your call to make a difference

We need more people like Carolyn to make sure no victim is left behind. Victim Support offers a unique opportunity to contribute meaningfully to your community, and support people through some of their most traumatic events, so they feel empowered and able to cope with the impact.

Carolyn’s firsthand experience shows the vital role of supporting victims: “Just having someone independent to talk with who cares, understands, and provides support during a dark time in their lives, can give them the light to keep going.”

We invite you to join our volunteer team to help people during their dark times. Your journey with Victim Support won’t just change the lives of those you help; it will transform your own.

Are you ready to make a difference? Together, we can ensure that no victim is left behind to face their journey alone.

*Victim names have been changed to protect their privacy.

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