One drizzly morning Lisa, mother of five and grandmother of two, walked her grandchildren to their early learning centre.
Lisa looked after four-year old Ari and two-year old Noah while their parents worked. The three of them walked most days, rain or shine, because the family had one car that had broken down and they couldn’t afford to fix it. As she was about to head back home, the rain got heavier. So Lisa decided to wait a bit and have coffee and a chat with Tui, the Kaimaanaki Whānau Worker (social worker) based at the centre.
She’s been stopping for a chat like this every so often. Sometimes, just with Tui, sometimes with a few other mums and nanas. It felt good to take a break and talk to some grown-ups for a change. She’d found Tui to be a good listener. She knew that Tui was more than that, that her job was to offer support to families who need some extra help. Up until then, Lisa hadn’t thought that included her family.
But on that rainy day, Lisa was just so tired of holding the family together on her own. So when Tui asked how it was all going, Lisa poured out her stress and her worries for her children and grandchildren. She kept saying, “we’re lucky, there are lots of families much worse off”. But Tui told her that didn’t matter. She said, “tell me about your family, what is worrying you?” And Lisa did.
"It's pretty hard holding down the whanau..."
“Money,” she said, “money is always a worry. But you just live with that. It’s the kids, they’re what’s keeping me up at night.”
She talked about her how teenage children were struggling with mental health, friendships, lack of opportunities and feeling frustrated and hopeless. How her grandchildren’s behaviour was getting out of control and she and their young parents are feeling overwhelmed. She’d been brought up not to complain, not to share family business with strangers. But Tui didn’t feel like a stranger. Lisa knew she could trust her. She didn’t feel judged. She felt safe.
Tui reassured Lisa that she was there to support her and her family. She was there to talk and have a cup of coffee, if nothing else. But there were some practical ways she could help. She laid them out for her, outlined a plan of actions they could take. A plan that would wrap the children in a cloak of support that would help this family, these children to live up to their potential.
Today, we’re asking you to help more families like Lisa’s. Your donation will make sure that Tui, and other social workers like her, are part of their communities, are building trust, enabling connections, and providing practical help that will change children’s lives.
You can give children and young people the support they need to navigate the challenges of growing up so they can face the future with confidence. You can give parents who are feeling overwhelmed and unsure how to support their children, the tools and resources they need.
You can prevent families from spiralling into crisis. With your help, they can be stronger, healthier, happier.*To ensure the privacy and safety of everyone concerned, names in this story have been changed and models have been used for all photography.