Sam Judd

Comment on the environment from nzherald.co.nz columnist Sam Judd

Sam Judd: Help! We (all) need somebody

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AMP Do Your Thing recipient Cameron Calkoen, left, is founder of Carabiner - a program that links motivated individuals with experienced mentors. He helped Jordon Milroy, right, climb the Sky Tower to raise money for wheelchairs in Samoa. Photo / Greg Bowker
AMP Do Your Thing recipient Cameron Calkoen, left, is founder of Carabiner - a program that links motivated individuals with experienced mentors. He helped Jordon Milroy, right, climb the Sky Tower to raise money for wheelchairs in Samoa. Photo / Greg Bowker

I can tell you from experience - it is very hard to find the money necessary to have a big impact on environmental challenges.

Although we still have a very long way to go at Sustainable Coastlines, things did start to become slightly easier when people realised that we are actually tackling health and social problems rather than just environmental ones.

Last year, an AMP scholarship gave me the financial breathing space to make our results more robust - we can now point at surveys that prove behavioural change as a metric of the work we were doing.

For anyone out there who has a good idea (whether it be for the environment, business, the arts, sport, health or research) I would encourage you to apply to Do Your Thing with AMP which opened yesterday - it is one of the few funding sources that will support any idea that is good for people.

Funding of course helps, but sometimes the ideas are not ready and what will make the most difference is some experienced advice. For me, the legendary maxim from Confuscious: "Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime" rings true here. To their credit, AMP frequently offers assistance through capacity building and knowledge as well as financial support.

The Akina Foundation's Launchpad program is another great example of lending a non-financial helping hand- it is aimed at consultancy for capacity building for social enterprise. For the projects that are selected, this will be a hand up, rather than a hand out.

Many local businesses also offer a hand up to community projects through allowing their employees the flexibility to volunteer: not only is it great marketing, but it makes staff happier in their jobs, reducing turnover costs and improving morale that converts into efficiency.

BNZ's Closed for Good program is a prime example, where all 5,500 of their staff lend a hand to community projects in need on the 4th of September. Anyone working on a community project that needs help can apply before the 26th of this month.

But while there is merit in professional people getting their hands dirty for a good purpose, if they put that time towards building the capacity of a community organisation, the cause will often be better off and the volunteer will get much more satisfaction.

I realised this when my team of volunteers had 800 school students and 300 corporates going to clean up Rangitoto Island. One of the school buses had broken down on the way to the wharf - the proverbial spanner in the works. I had to leave two of my volunteers on the registration desk with no briefing and despite them doing a commendable job, 1,100 people lost about 15 minutes.

After the event, one of the corporates bought me lunch and explained that one of his colleagues from queue manages 780 staff. It rapidly dawned on me that this person should not have been cleaning up the beach. He could have managed the registration process easily - one less person picking up plastic would have resulted in 1,100 people having an extra 15 minutes: a total of about 275 hours more beach cleaning that could have happened.

The point here is that if you have a problem (whether you work for a charity, a business or personally), go out and humbly ask for help. Get in front of your potential mentor face-to-face, show your passion and if it is a cause they care about, the chances are they will be on board.

I believe that we have the knowledge, expertise and ideas out there to fix most of our problems if we work together and go out and grab the opportunities that exist.

If you want to lend some high-level-help and share your expertise with those in need then don't be shy - give them a call and offer your services, you might just be the desperately needed solution to a problem they are facing.

If you want to give Sustainable Coastlines a hand (not just picking up rubbish, but providing your skills and expertise for specific projects) then click here.

If you have a story of someone helping you as a mentor, or could use some help for your project, please share it as a comment - it might just inspire someone to seek help or give it.

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