A poignant event, a timely reminder.

A poignant event, a timely reminder.

The UniCrew Exec recently organised The Dunedin Sleepout 2016! Recently I had a timely reminder of why this event is so important, and why the Dunedin Night Shelter is such a crucial service.

Sunday Night, 9.45pm.

I had just finished an assignment (that I should have done days ago), and was getting ready to head home. I was absolutely not looking forward to it because it had just started to rain. But I knew it was just going to get colder as it got later, so out of the central library I headed. By this time it was of course dark, and now pouring with rain. Surprise surprise, I didn’t have my umbrella. I was struggling up Albany Street, in front of the museum lawn, when I saw something that stopped me in my tracks.

As I passed the bus stop, I spotted someone curled up on the bus bench under the shelter, sleeping bag zipped up over their head.

Now in order to appreciate the gravity of this moment, just think about the weather that night. It was dark. The wind was like ice. The maximum temp was around 6°C. The rain was so heavy, when I got home, I was soaked all the way through.

And someone was in a sleeping bag. Under a bus shelter. In those conditions.

Understandably, I couldn’t just keep walking. Now I must preface this by saying that, in the circumstances I (and others older and wiser than me) probably wouldn’t advocate for approaching people in this case.

In saying that, I did say excuse me, hello. etc but they didn’t hear me/ignored me/was asleep. Short of physically tapping them, which is not wise given that I was by myself, in the dark, I reluctantly headed home.

Home. Where I changed out of my wet clothes into dry warm ones. I wrapped myself in a blanket and drank a cup of hot tea in tears. How could I be sitting here, warm and dry? There had to be something else I could do, I just didn’t know what.

So I knew I had to ask those who knew more about these situations than I did. After frantically asking others from the Sleep-out organising team, I rang the only place I could think of: The Night Shelter.

They answered immediately, and after I explained the situation, they said call emergency services, which I did. To my relief, once I talked to these services, they said given the conditions, and the fact that I thought it was unusual to see someone in that area, they would send a unit out to check on them.

I still struggled to sleep that night. Of course this was not a problem I can solve, just do what I can and contact the appropriate people.

I still feel physically ill when I think about that moment. There I was, wandering home, stressed about exams, oblivious to the fact that there are people out there in situations like this.

I am still figuring out what to take away from that moment.

I think first that there are things that can be done, and that the helplessness I felt in that moment was temporary. There are services and people out there equipped to act in these situations.

Second that this is a huge (but somewhat hidden) issue in Dunedin. Part of the reason I (naively) was so shocked was the perceived rarity of something like this. Unfortunately just because we don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. The Dunedin Night Shelter has provided 1400 bed nights of emergency accommodation since starting in 2007. Thats a huge number of people who are in urgent need.

Third that the Dunedin Sleep Out event was so important. The Night Shelter Trust receives no central government funding and relies heavily on the support and generosity of the local community.  All funds for the running of the Shelter come from grants and donations.  All meals at the Shelter are provided from food donated by various local organisations and community groups.
This means that any fundraising is crucial.

So there there are ways you can help! You can:

DONATE to the campaign. You can still help fundraise or support a team/individual by donating.


And share the event, to raise awareness about this crucial issue.





The Dunedin Sleep Out 2016!

The Dunedin Sleep Out 2016!


Last Friday, the UniCrew team helped organise a fantastic event: The Dunedin Sleep Out 2016!

The event is a fundraiser for the Dunedin Night Shelter, a service providing emergency housing to those in need.

Sleeping out in the Octagon in the middle of a Dunedin Winter may seem like a health and safety risk, but if anything, sub-zero temperatures help make this event all the more poignant.

We are showing solidarity with those who experience homelessness, and making this often invisible issue more visible by putting it right in the middle of town!

Just as it was last year, the Sleep Out was a great success!

We were so happy to have the team from TV3 Story there to show off our event on LIVE national tv!!

IMG_3572.JPGLive from the Sleep Out: TV3 Story!

The event had a fantastic media response this year, with NewsHub, The ODT, ScoopYahoo NZ  and Dunedin TV all picking up the event this year, in addition to The Star community newspaper putting us on their front page!!
Thanks for helping us raise awareness of this crucial issue!

The event opened with speeches from both Dunedin North MP David Clark, and Dunedin South MP Clare Curran. The wonderful chairman of the Night Shelter Trust Dave Brown also addressed the crowd, thanking the students and organising team for their efforts (we love you too Dave!).

IMG_3581Dave Brown, Chairman of the Night Shelter Trust

The event was well attended this year, and featured a huge number of talented performers to keep the crowd entertained. A huge thank you to all of the following:

Julion Wright
The Acoustic Paintings
Otago Dance Association
Zumba with Tammy
Abby Wolfe
James Dignan – music, poetry, art
Simon Kingsley-Holmes
Annie Hayes
Wyeth Chalmers
Andrew Mekhail

IMG_3585.JPGOtago Dance crew lighting up the Octagon stage

This event also would not happen without the support of a HUGE number of businesses, sponsors, community groups and just general good sorts, so thank you all!

Plus I have one more thank you: The wonderful team at UniCrew for all their efforts putting this event together!

Thanks crew.png

Not all of you are pictured here so I’m going to pick on you all:

Sze-En + Sarah + Dave: For their overall amazingness and organisation of the chaos!
Briar: For the amazing soup and team organisation!
Kelsey: For the awesome health and safety plan and general excellence!
Fred: For the musician cajoling and technical/audio genius!
Lucy/Craig: For the stunning photos/video and your overall help!
Abigail: For the fundraising brilliance, and your constant good vibes!
Damon: For the man-in-a-box and your cardboard-wall skills!
Geena: For your marketing brain and helpful assistance!
Susie: For your fizzing attitude and hype skills!
Angus: For the heavy lifting and helpfulness!
Finn/Anastasia/Alyson: For the injection of energy and helping hands!

+ Our security peeps: Timothy and Luke = Legends!

The people behind this Sleep Out worked so so hard to bring this event to life! They all deserve some thank yous, so give them a mental round of applause!

Here are some more images of the amazing night, and thank you to all our participants!!

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UniCrew Visits: The United Nations

UniCrew Visits: The United Nations

Welcome back to the latest instalment of the UniCrew Visits, where we tell the stories of cool people going to cool places.

This week I sat down with Briar from the UniCrew Exec to chat about her experience at the Harvard National Model United Nations 2016 and discuss the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, and how they relate to UniCrew!

Jessie: Hello, hello, this is a bit weird eh.

Briar: Just a bit (laughs).

J: We pretty much just had this conversation and now we are going through it all again cause I didn’t record it (fail).
Anyways, tell me a little bit about the trip.

B: Basically, I was fortunate to be able to attend the Harvard Model UN in late January, early February. This is a conference with loads of students from all around the world coming together to learn more about the United Nations, and represent a given country as part of the model UN. The NZ delegates represented Norway, so we got to attend model committee meetings for the committees which Norway is actually on.

J: You mentioned that you got to meet Helen Clark?

B: We got to ask her heaps about her role as head of the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), and she is just an amazing person to talk to in terms of the breadth of her knowledge.

J: She has an amazing background at this point eh?

B: Definitely, and it shows in the way she can approach situations, she is so pragmatic and neutral with her response to different issues. Its very inspiring.

J: So are you Team Helen all the way then? (Helen Clark is currently in the running to become the United Nations Secretary General)

B: Oh yeah, #helenforUNSG!

J: #helen4life (laughs).
So that was one of the highlights, you also mentioned that you got to do a lot of travelling around the United States during this trip, can you tell us a bit about that?

B: We started in San Francisco, and we biked to the Golden Gate Bridge, went to China Town. We walked the United Nations walkway, which is to signify where the United Nations Charter was signed. On the ground as you walk along is the pre-amble to the first Charter of the United Nations, so our group all walked along in the pouring rain, reading the ground like the political nerds that we are.

We then went to Washington DC, which is essentially the political capital of the United States. We went to Capitol Hill, got to see the Supreme Court, which as a law student was pretty cool. I wished we could have seen the notorious RBG (Ruth Bader Ginsberg, one of the few female Supreme Court Justices). 


J: It all sounds amazing, so jelly.

B: OH, we went to the White House as well-

J: I can’t believe you forgot a trip to the White House, just casually

B: Actually, while we were there, the Secret Service kind of came out of nowhere and ushered us all back.

J: Ooooo..

B: We figured out that the Columbian Ambassador was leaving, so they were letting him leave. But I loved how there was a Secret Service guy on a bicycle.

J: That’s great HA,

B: He would kind of just pull up, oh and there was also a squirrel.

J: (Laughing) So the key part of the White House, Secret Service guy on a bike, and SQUIRRELS.

B: (Also laughing) Pretty much yep. Anyways from Washington we were onto Boston, where the actual conference was being held. Representing Norway, we had prepared to speak at our committee on two different topics, but only one would be selected, which was the rights of female prisoners.


The next four days were just more committee meetings, following that was another two days where we needed to go out to another area, and it was a -18 degree snow day. I was in open toed heels –

J: NO, oh dear,

B: Yeah, oops. We did also visit Harvard whilst there, which was awesome, and ate in the law school cafeteria, which again was awesome for me as a law student.

J: Setting your sights, love it!

B: From Boston, we went to New York –

J: (fake cries) so jealous!

B: So cool, jamming to Empire State of Mind, New York New York on the train there. Highlights were of course visiting the UN Headquarters, going to see 2 Broadway Shows, went to an NBA game. We spent the longest in New York, and it wasn’t nearly long enough.

J: Urgh, I am DYING to go there –

B: Everyone should go there, I can’t wait to go back eventually.


So then we went onto Hawaii, and just relaxed for the end of our trip!

J: Nice, urgh take me with you.

But anyways, so the main reason we are talking about this trip, is because at UniCrew we are trying to incorporate the United Nations Global Goals into a lot of what we do. So can you tell us a little bit about those?

B: So the Global Goals for Sustainable Development replace the Millennium Development Goals which ended in 2015.

The Global Goals expand and build on the work of those original goals. The way they are laid out (as 17 goals relating to different areas of sustainable development) makes it easy for people to identify goals and work towards them.


So at UniCrew, we are trying to identify what different goals relate to different volunteering opportunities, so like for example if someone is trying to end poverty, we can say hey-

J: Like here’s this organisation which is also passionate about ending poverty, and they have this role that would be great for you.

B: Exactly. One of the goals that I really like –

J: That was my next question, you are one step ahead of me haha,

B: Ha, I like them all, but one in particular is goal #11, Sustainable Cities and Communities.

J: Why do you identify with that goal then?

B: I really like the idea that the international community has recognised the importance of the community unit. And it feeds off a lot of the other goals as well –

J: Right, cause some are quite specific, and others are more broad.

B: Exactly, you’ve got things like zero hunger for example,

J: Which encompasses a lot of things,

B: And I like the idea of working with smaller units like a community, to achieve some of the bigger goals like that.

J: Awesome.


The Global Goals are becoming a big part of our work at UniCrew. We are excited to keep using the #globalgoals to make volunteering opportunities meaningful and accessible for everyone!

Right now you can apply for funding as part of Operation Global Goals, to get your community project funded! If you are a student club or group what are you waiting for? Apply here!



#TedTalkTuesday: How to make stress your friend?

#TedTalkTuesday: How to make stress your friend?

Sometimes, we are so involved and passionate about so many different projects, stress is the inevitable outcome. At UniCrew we can all relate to the stresses that life can throw at us, which is why this weeks #TedTalkTuesday is all about how you can take that stress and make it more productive.

The ideas that Kelly McGonigal presents are great, and this talk is generally very engaging. Make sure you check it out, and #feellessstress.

UniCrew Visits: Shop on Carroll

UniCrew Visits: Shop on Carroll

Welcome to our shiny new series, UniCrew Visits. We are walking the talk by visiting our favourite community organisation, and volunteering of course!

Last Saturday a team of us were delighted to visit Shop on Carroll, and the attached opshop warehouse, which caters for other opshops all around the city, to work our muscles and shift some stock for them. Thank you so much to Fiona and her team for having us!

We had enough energy left after to take some silly pictures.


Once we were done helping out, we all had so much fun exploring and discovering hidden treasures.

I found these old souls, no doubt looking for a new home.


We also found some hilarious costume items, which we used to accessorise appropriately.


I found a beautiful box of tiny framed pictures.


And of course we all hunted through the racks for an opshop bargain.


Sze-En our volunteer coordinator, even found time to shop for her upcoming nuptials.


Do you want to be a part of the next UniCrew Visits? Get in touch with us on Facebook!

#TEDTalk Tuesday: Original Thinkers

#TEDTalk Tuesday: Original Thinkers

The UniCrew manifesto is all about the new, the creative and the fresh ideas that enable us to help link students with volunteering and volunteering opportunities. Creativity is essential.

This week on #TEDTalkTuesday, Adam Grant discuss the mind of  the ‘originals’, the dreamers who come up with new ideas. You can learn the 3 habits of these sorts of people, and how these ideas can be implemented into our work!

You can also check out the book, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World. I’m adding it to my must-read list.


Confessions of a Master Procrastinator

Confessions of a Master Procrastinator

Time: 1:57am
Assignment word count: 1026/3000
Due: 9:00am

If you at all relate to the above, welcome to my world.

I would consider myself a true master of very few things in life, but I could teach a comprehensive course on how to procrastinate.

I could write a great thesis on it, if I wasn’t too busy procrastinating.

Even in writing this post I am procrastinating from about 10 other things that I should be doing.

And maybe thats the problem. I think of myself as a ‘productive’ procrastinator. This means I procrastinate by doing things that are less urgent than the assignment I should be writing. The issue here is that it makes me feel like I am still technically doing something, and hence takes away some of the guilt and panic I feel about the 3000 word research proposal that I should have finished by now.

But the problem with being busy, and being a so-called productive procrastinator, is that there is never any shortage of things to do to procrastinate from the thing which has the most imminent deadline.

I have been asked many times how do I do everything I need to do, and still function as a coherent human being. And there is no easy answer, plus sometimes I don’t sleep, as evidenced by me currently writing this at 2am.

But there are some things I have picked up that help alleviate procrastination. These might seem obvious to some people who actually have their lives together* but it took me a while to learn.

*by this I mean people who do their laundry BEFORE they run out of clothes.

1. Try to love what you do.

This is easier said than done for some people. But this is the single biggest thing that has changed the way I work. If I actually give a shit about what I am working on, the chances of me actually finishing a task are much higher.
This applies across the board, and there are ways to change your work into something you care at least a little bit about. Wherever possible, pick an assignment topic you are actually interested in, as opposed to one you think will be easy.
If you are lucky enough to have a job you love, good for you (but also I sort of hate you). If not, try turning a retail or service job into something more interesting by making friends and finding the comedy in the mundane.

2. Try to plan ahead.

A calendar app on my phone has changed my life. Google Calendar is fine but I personally use the free app Sunrise because it lets you combine multiple calendars (including FB events) in one place. Set your reminders well and then you never have to remember a thing about your life ever again, because trying to remember things like meetings, birthdays and due dates is half the battle. Taking away that stress helps immensely.

3. Give yourself permission to have bad days.

Sometimes things just don’t go your way. Handing an assignment a day late or forgetting a deadline seems horrific at the time, but I can promise you will survive.
Theres nothing wrong with holding yourself to a high standard. But beating yourself up isn’t constructive.

Theres a fine line between acknowledging failure and clinging to it. 

– The Master Procrastinator