Hunter Volunteer Centre

News and Events

Making Skyways Friendlier

by Jade Lazarevic, The Herald.

VOLUNTEERS are set to lend a helping hand to passengers at Newcastle Airport next month.

The project is the result of a collaboration between the Hunter Volunteer Centre and Newcastle Airport which is the community-based organisation's first corporate member.

"We can call this organisation our first corporate member," Hunter Volunteer Centre manager Tony Ross said.

"Newcastle Airport and Hunter Volunteer Centre are coming together to work on a program that will see a new team of friendly faces walking the floors of the airport."

These volunteers will be known as airport ambassadors.

Helping passengers navigate their way around the airport, assisting families or handling general inquiries are among the roles the volunteers will take on.

Mr Ross said the project was not simply a "meet and greet" for passengers.

"A number of airports internationally have this type of program," Mr Ross said.

"For example, think of mum and dad with the kids. Everyone's a bit angsty, the kids are upset. The ambassador can come up and say, `Can I help?'

"The airport staff are only really there to help you check in and depart whereas the ambassador is there to, I feel, promote the whole journey, make the whole journey a real fun, friendly, pleasant experience."

In the past the relationship between community-based organisations and corporates has often been limited to providing financial support.

Mr Ross aims to work alongside other corporates on joint projects such as airport ambassadors that can capitalise on their strengths as a team.

"We're always happy for that financial support but it's a bit more than that.

"The corporates can certainly give money but they can also give their time whether it be on boards or involved in a community-based activity or a fund-raiser, or again just with the normal corporate volunteering where they send their staff along to do practical, physical, worthwhile and meaningful projects."

Mr Ross said corporate support could come in many forms such as team-building exercises of painting walls to planting trees, but it was also about partnerships that benefit and recognise both the community organisation and the business.

The Hunter Volunteer Centre is looking for more corporate organisations to come on board.

Mr Ross said corporate volunteering could be as little as three hours a month offering experience and expertise as a board member of a community-based organisation.

He said it could also incorporate sponsoring an event or ceremony with joint media opportunities, adding that corporate volunteering was a great way to extend networks and further develop business skills.

"We're looking to recruit more corporates who say, `Well, you've done that with the airport. What can you do for us or what can we do together?'

"It would really be based on the organisation.

"We may be able to do something with them or I can match them up to another community-based organisation that may fit better their model of business.

"It's looking for the connections that match.

"We match a corporate to a community-based organisation as we do a volunteer to a community-based organisation."

Airport ambassadors will begin volunteering at Newcastle Airport in May.