Volunteer of the Month is Pétra Allen, who works for Women's Refuge Crisis Line.
Sandra Rickey, Volunteer Whanganui manager, presented Pétra with a certificate, volunteer logo badge and a $40 voucher from Mud Ducks cafe.
"Women's Refuge Crisis Line volunteer role is very hard to fill," says Sandra. "You need the right calibre of person, so it's incredible that you not only work full-time but you also do this after hours."
Sandra quoted from the citation from Lynda Armstrong, volunteer co-ordinator of Women's Refuge.
"Pétra has been offering her time, expertise and energy as a reliable and dedicated volunteer for our refuge for the past two years. She is an outstanding young woman in our community who believes in empowering women to be free from domestic violence. She has tirelessly volunteered her free time on weekends to help with our 24-hour Crisis Line service, our fundraisers and to offer her services on our board."
Pétra is an associate at Treadwell Gordon.
"I did some volunteer work for Women's Refuge in Wellington when I was a student." That involved "buckets and sashes on Lambton Quay" and some pro bono legal work as a student.
"So when I settled down in Whanganui I wanted to be involved with a community organisation. I approached Refuge and did the Crisis Line training, which came more naturally to me because of the work I do." She arrived at a time when there was a real need for Crisis Line volunteers.
"It's a crucial [emergency] service for women and children in Whanganui at immediate risk of intimate partner violence, and in many instances, those women and children might not necessarily see the police as their first port of call."
Pétra says sometimes it involves uplifting people from home, hospital or police station and transporting them to the Refuge safe house.
"I do one weekend a month and then one or two nights every week," she says. The service is available 24/7, 365 days a year.
"If the police have been to a family harm incident, they will let us know so we can make contact. Sometimes women just call because they need to talk to somebody about a situation they're in."
Once contact is made, support from Women's Refuge is ongoing.
"They will get referred to an advocate, a Refuge employee, who will meet with them, take them to WINZ, get them emergency housing, perhaps sort them out with accommodation before they make a decision to leave, so there is lots of ongoing support from Refuge.
Sometimes women just need to know those options are there, because they might be in situations where they don't have access to finances or a vehicle or any way to get out.
"It lets them know there is a way out and there is support in the community for them. The Refuge has other services available to put safety plans in place.
"The amount of support we get from the community with the ball, with any of our services, is really awesome. My employer, Treadwell Gordon has been hugely supportive of my volunteer work and they also provide legal assistance to Refuge where possible. Whanganui is a community I am proud to live in and be a part of, but without services provided by Refuge and other organisations it would be a very different place to live."
Whanganui Women's Refuge needs Crisis Line volunteers. Crisis Line is the equivalent to calling 111 for women who are in fear of their lives. Refuge needs people to be trained in this vital role as a matter of urgency. Full training will be held on Saturday, November 30 and Sunday, December 1, 9am-5pm both days.
For more information call Lynda 344 2204, 021 02989604 or email firstname.lastname@example.org