The essential work of St John in improving health outcomes for New Zealanders would not be possible without the commitment and dedication of volunteers.
As National Volunteer Week, this week is special for St John as it provides the perfect opportunity to recognise and honour the volunteers who generously give their time to support the vital work of the organisation in responding to emergencies and supporting communities.
More than 8000 St John volunteers contribute millions of hours to New Zealand communities, demonstrating the volunteering ethos which underpins New Zealand's position as one of the top five countries for volunteering in the world.
With an amazing 40 per cent of St John paid staff also volunteering in other roles during their valuable spare time, volunteering certainly runs through the heart of St John.
This year's theme is Te Hua o te Mahi Tahi, the benefit of working together, and St John CEO Peter Bradley says that has shone through as New Zealanders support each other through Covid-19.
"Our volunteers have shown their resilience and commitment to helping their communities through the challenges of lockdown and continue to do that as we restart our programmes to improve the health and wellbeing of all New Zealanders.
"We thank each and every volunteer for the support they give to their communities and assure them the work they do makes a real difference to people's lives and allows us to work to address the health inequities in New Zealand."
St John Ambulance director of operations Dan Ohs says volunteers are vital in responding to medical emergencies in rural and remote areas.
"Our frontline volunteers make it possible to get help quickly to those who need it most, supporting the emergency ambulance service in its lifesaving work, while our event volunteers look after events of all sizes, keeping everyone safe."
St John volunteers also work to support the wellbeing of New Zealanders by providing community support to reduce feelings of isolation with the Caring Caller programme, supporting hospital patients and their families, spending time with older New Zealanders in care homes, co-ordinating a pet therapy programme, driving patients to vital health appointments, fundraising to keep ambulances on the road, managing St John stores and shaping the leaders of the future in St John Youth.
St John director of community programmes Sarah Manley says these community initiatives would be unable to function without volunteers.
"I ask everyone to take the opportunity this week to acknowledge and thank the volunteers in New Zealand who give their time to support New Zealand with their selfless work."