Volunteering is in Marea Nicolle’s blood.
Her grandparents volunteered for Lifeline in Invercargill in the 1980s and her parents, both teachers, regularly cared for foster children alongside three of their own.
The 37 year old learning and development coach has been volunteering for Youthline since she was 21, and is Youthline Wellington’s longest serving Group Supervisor.
“I’d heard great things about the organisation and was passionate about supporting young people and making a difference. I felt like there was something missing in my life. I wanted to be part of a community.”
And Marea says that’s exactly what Youthline is.
“When I was quite sick 5 years ago, and when I had my baby, the most supportive people alongside my family were Youthline volunteers. It’s been such a big part of my life, I hate the thought of ever leaving! I love it and get so much out of it, the personal connections as well as the great training and support. I think that’s why I’ve stayed for so long. I love supporting others and I love my supervision sessions, learning from other people and hearing other perspectives. The volunteers are amazing people, they have so much going on in their lives, but still make time to help other people.”
She says Youthline gives her a higher purpose.
“Supporting our youth is so important, I really believe in what we do. It’s about being a listening ear, being able to point people in the right direction with referrals, being supportive and reassuring.
Marea has seen a lot change in 16 years.
“From when I first started to now, the issues have really changed. Anxiety and mental health come up a lot more and there’s a lot more risk assessment and checking. It wasn’t so prevalent back then. Mental health wasn’t so out there.
“I think the internet has really changed things. For example, before internet and cell phones, kids could get away from bullying but now it’s around them all the time.
So it can be nice to talk to someone who doesn’t know you, can’t see you, to have that anonymous side. And Youthline is really working. It’s a great place for young people to turn to if they don’t have other avenues or even if they do. It doesn’t have to be a major issue, they can ring us no matter what, nothing is too small.”
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