24 June 2020 at 11:45 am

On the Up

Thursday June 11 2020 The Star


Each week we profile a local Christchurch organisation to give them a plug and see how they’re going as the country eases into recovery. This week we spoke to Arron Perriam, chief executive at children’s charity Cholmondeley

Tell us about your organisation, Arron

Cholmondeley Children’s Centre is an 80 per cent community-funded charity providing short-term respite care for children aged three to 12. Care is available as a planned stay or when whanau
members are stressed or facing a crisis. 

The recent lockdown has been tough on everyone, what was the toughest aspect for
your organisation and its people?
The bulk of our funding comes from fundraising. During lockdown we had to cancel our main fundraising initiatives, which had a major impact on donations. Making things even more difficult
was the added stress our most vulnerable families experienced over this time. It’s been really
tough for everyone, including our own team members. While our doors were closed during alert level 4, we continued to support families with regular phone contact, a dedicated helpline for extra assistance, and a website for online support.

Now that lockdown has been relaxed, are you expecting to operate differently?
Fundamentally we continue to provide planned respite and emergency care to those that
need it most. However, we lost five of our international volunteer staff, which has
put pressure on our service delivery. We’ve had to be agile and creative to ensure we continue to do what we do best.

What role does technology play in your organisation as you adjust to the so-called new normal?
Technology plays a huge part in our business, particularly as we transitioned to working from home, via remote desktops. The recent upheaval put impetus behind our journey to the cloud-based
applications and multi-channel customer engagement. CCL is a huge help, ensuring we stay
on the right path.

Do you have a sense of what the future looks like for your organisation?
As demand for our services keeps rising, more than ever we rely on valued partnerships and generous individuals and businesses, such as CCL, to get right behind Cholmondeley.

Finally, what lessons have you learned from this chapter in our history?
We learnt a lot during lockdown – in just 48 hours we had everyone working from home, which was a huge change for our centre-focused organisation. Our eyes have been opened to the potential of
technology to connect remote workers and our broader community, without adding
complexity and time.