Questions for Candidates - THELMA SOWMAN

27 September 2022 | News

Volunteer Marlborough (with assistance from volunteers), on behalf of the voluntary & community sector, and in conjunction with the Volunteer Centre Network of Aotearoa (VCNA) submitted a list of questions to those running for local office here in Marlborough. For consistency, effort has been made to ask the same questions of all candidates around the country.

Here, we hear from THELMA SOWMAN, current Councillor and running again:

What role do you think Council has in supporting a thriving Marlborough region for the voluntary & community sector?

MDC has grants available for organisations who meet the criteria. We also have committees that include volunteer organisations.

What do you think are the significant obstacles and opportunities facing the Marlborough region's voluntary & community sector over the next few years? If elected, how would you address these opportunities and obstacles?

Lack of human resources to fill volunteer vacancies. If elected, I will continue to support the volunteer agencies through Council sub-committees.

How do you view volunteering in the community? i.e. Is it important? What value do volunteers bring? And, if elected, how would you personally support the voluntary & community sector in Marlborough?

Volunteering is the heart of the community in Marlborough and also in many other regions in NZ. We are fortunate in Marlborough to have such a dedicated group of local volunteers. They do a selfless job for our community. I have spent many years as a volunteer, trustee, and fundraiser for not-for-profit organisations and my role as Councillor on sub-committees with volunteers allows me to be part of the wider volunteer community.

We've had a lot of extreme weather events around the country lately, and we are rather earthquake prone as a country. How do you see the role of volunteers as part of the disaster response locally?

Extreme weather events need to be coordinated by professionals and trained volunteers. However, several volunteer organisations could register their interest with Civil Defence and, if the need arises, they can be contacted to help. A Youth in Emergency Services programme has been set up to train young people to work with groups including the NZ Police, St. John, Coastguard, Fire and Emergency, Surf Life Saving, and Search and Rescue.

How do you see Council and community organisations working together to build a robust, resilient, and welcoming region and community?

Government is currently working with communities / councils to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for newcomers. Council could take a more visible leadership role in promoting diversity and inclusion along with the relevant community groups.

If you are successful in these local elections, how will you recognise and support the vital role of volunteers, volunteer-involving-organisations, and volunteer support services in the electorate? And how might you see yourself working with Volunteer Marlborough?

We could start by forming a strategic partnership with Volunteer Marlborough. Though we already have strategic plans in other sub-committees, we could look at extending this to cover more services. I do not work through Volunteer Marlborough, but volunteer as an individual. However, I am happy to talk with VM to see if there is a role suitable for me.

What impact do you perceive volunteers to have in our community? (Volunteer submitted)

Volunteers provide an invaluable resources for our community. Volunteers enrich the lives of many New Zealanders.

Have you ever volunteered, and would you recommend it to others? (Volunteer submitted)

Yes - I have volunteered for most of my life and would highly recommend it. Not only do the recipients of your volunteering benefit, but it gives you the satisfaction of knowing that you are able to change and enhance people's lives.

How do you think volunteers and not-for-profits could better the community even further? (Volunteer submitted)

I would like to see like-minded groups get together and comine their resources. There are many groups doing the same work and I would like to see these groups form one group as I believe it would be very beneficial.

In what ways do you think Volunteer Marlborough could help to improve local volunteer programmes and further support not-for-profit organisations? (Volunteer submitted)

A strategic plan involving all organisations who rely on volunteers and, as per previous answer, consolidation.

What regional policies do you think are the most important for supporting our local organisations and volunteers in the sector so that they flourish rather than perish? (Volunteer submitted)

Currently we are supporting Marlborough Youth Trust through their Youth in Emergency Services programme, advertising through our MDC page any events that VM have such as volunteer workshops. Emails are also sent to our database regarding happenings that may be of interest.

What resources and support do you plan to implement or maintain in order to continue to develop and support the not-for-profit sector as it stands? (Volunteer submitted)

I would like to continue on the sub-committees I am currently on that help volunteer / not-for-profit organisations such as Grants, Older Persons Forum, and Access and Mobility. I would also like to discuss within the Council a possible volunteer strategy.

What message would you like to share with the volunteers of our region? (Volunteer submitted)

The benefits of being a volunteer include bringing meaning and purpose to your life, can increase your self-esteem, and help alleviate depression as it can give you a purpose. It also has a positive impact on your community.

Thank you, Thelma, for taking the time to answer these questions!