8 October 2021

Connecting Through Covid


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2020 was the year that the ‘team of 5 million’ came together to crush Covid-19. But for whānau who were only just coping before these events, COVID only exasperated this strain, and the number of new whānau needing the support of Cholmondeley’s services grew. But we crossed our fingers and hoped we could return to a life without COVID in our community.

Fast forward to 2021 and there was an unfortunate sense of déjà vu around Aotearoa with the announcement from our Government of the nationwide Level 4 lockdown. With Cholmondeley unable to support tamariki onsite while Level 4 and 3 restrictions are in place, the team mobilised itself within an hour of the announcement to respond to arrange for 14 tamariki onsite to return home to their whānau.

This change meant that the almost 100 tamariki that Cholmondeley had planned to support onsite from 17 August through to 2 September, not including several whānau day visits to support new referrals from our Awhi (Care) outreach team, could no longer take place. The strain on whānau was greater than ever and Cholmondeley needed to again adapt to meet the needs of its community.

Within 48 hours, our Awhi (Care) Team, alongside so many local businesses and organisations that donated food items, set up a socially distanced assembly line in the Cholmondeley kitchen and put together over 500 bags of essential items with food staples, like sugar, flour, rice, and pasta. The vans were filled and teams hit the streets. If they couldn’t come to us, then we’d go to them!

Twice a week kai parcels were filled and distributed and as fruit, bread and milk also became available from other donations, they too were included in deliveries to support the basic nutrition of whānau.

As other social services started supporting whānau, the Cholmondeley team turned their attention to the mental health of whānau, general health concerns, support over the phone, and providing activity packs filled with stationery, games, and activities to keep them busy expressing themselves while at home.

The Cholmondeley team rallied together to ensure that tamariki and their whānau were not forgotten during this challenging time. The response from whānau? handmade notes, pictures from tamariki, and tears of relief knowing that they weren’t alone.

What has stood out over this period is the importance for our most basic human needs to be met, including the need to feel valued and supported. Cholmondeley will continue to serve the tamariki, whānau, and community.

The ways we engage will differ as we work through changes in our environment but with your support, the work of Cholmondeley will continue, as it has done for nearly 100 years giving tamariki opportunities to achieve their potential.

From the tamariki, staff, and board, thank you for making a difference.

Robyn Wallace
General Manager Cholmondeley Children’s Centre