Returned volunteers are invited to join the Friends of VSA Facebook group that was launched late in April.
The closed group is for returned volunteers and VSA members only. It offers an opportunity to share news, discuss common topics and offer mutual support out of the public eye.
VSA’s main Facebook page is public with over 31,000 followers but it has different aims, such as promoting assignment vacancies and volunteers’ stories.
A closed group means that, although members' names are visible to the public, content posted on the site is not. Only approved members (in this case, returned volunteers or VSA members) can post.
The site aims to be a fun, sociable, educative place for the community of VSA supporters to interact and stay in touch. Its guidelines note that people, in-country partners and situations should be treated with respect when comments are made.
The site does not speak on behalf of VSA, MFAT or the New Zealand Government, and information from other users should not be shared without first obtaining permission.
When VSAConnect was set up in 2013, surveys indicated that most returned volunteers didn’t want to communicate via Facebook.
However, older New Zealanders are now big users. With 45 being the average age of a volunteer, many returnees are likely to be on Facebook.