For the past three decades ChildFund New Zealand has made a tangible difference to vulnerable communities around the world thanks to the generosity of New Zealanders.
Thousands of Kiwis, along with the Government of New Zealand’s Aid Programme, have supported ChildFund in its commitment to help children and youth thrive through its ‘sponsor a child’ and ‘gifts that grow’ initiatives, and in its drive to make a positive impact on the livelihoods, health, education and protection of children less fortunate.
Now, as a way to say ‘thank you’ to its loyal supporters who are facing challenges of their own with the current COVID-19 lockdown, ChildFund New Zealand is turning the tables to support those who have been there for the charity over the years.
“We are incredibly grateful for the support we’ve had from Kiwis during the past 30 years,” says Paul Brown, CEO of ChildFund New Zealand.
“Over 72 percent of our supporters have been backing us for more than two decades. Now it’s our time to give back to them.”
Since mid-March, five staff members who comprise the Donor Services Team at ChildFund New Zealand have been checking in on the health and wellbeing of some of their Kiwi supporters through phone calls. Working from their makeshift home offices, the team have been making great progress and are on track to reach 4000 supporters around New Zealand by the end of April.
“Just a phone call at this time can brighten up someone’s day,” says Brown. “What we’ve also found is that giving our team something positive to focus on has been good for their morale. This experience has bonded our team, as well as connected us to our community.”
Many of ChildFund New Zealand’s supporters are over the age of 60, and some live alone. They may be feeling a heightened level of isolation and anxiety at this time.
Brown, who has been working for ChildFund as CEO for the past 15 years, says any help his team can offer supporters by simply staying connected to them has been welcomed.
During the early stages of the lockdown, Daphne Wyngaard, a member of the Donor Services Team, spoke to a donor who was unable to do her online grocery shopping and pay their Sky TV bill. Over the phone, Daphne coached the lady how to go about that.
The Donor Services Team has reported that calls can take five minutes, others can last 40 minutes and others over an hour.
“Some people have identified to our staff that they have been feeling frustrated as people in their community haven’t been checking in on them as much as they would have expected.
“We have been going back to people we have been concerned about with a follow-up phone call, or referring them on to the appropriate support networks such as Healthline, Need to Talk?, the Police, or Oranga Tamariki,” says Brown.
ChildFund New Zealand recognises that these types of crises can often lead to increased stress on families and subsequently, possible domestic and safety concerns in families. The team has had training to arm them with knowledge and resources to point the public to, about keeping children safe during COVID-19.
The ChildFund New Zealand team is also currently focusing on its international emergency appeal which involves supplying hygiene kits and life-saving information to families on the densely-populated Pacific Island nation of Kiribati. There, 60,000 people live within the 16km² area of Kiribati’s capital South Tarawa, and access to health care and clean water is limited.
While there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kiribati, as yet, ChildFund has been coordinating with the World Health Organisation (WHO), Red Cross and Unicef, and visiting households to share life-saving hygiene kits and information about what to do in the event of the arrival of COVID-19 and to mitigate transmission.
ChildFund has also been supporting families in Papua New Guinea for several years, in areas of child protection, education, health care and livelihoods.
“We run the first national Gender-Based Violence helpline in the country to support women and families. This service is particularly important at this challenging time when there may be increased incidents of violence,” says Brown.
For the past 26 years, ChildFund has been working across the Pacific region, providing clean water, toilets for schools and homes, and training in good hygiene practices to families in need.
Join #childfundreachout, #reachout To join ChildFund New Zealand on its quest to connect with Kiwis at this time to offer support an ear and a ‘virtual smile’, use the hashtags #childfundreachout and #reachout on social media, tagging friends you’d like to reach out to, or simply phone friends or loved ones for regular chats. Stay connected, reach out. Visit www.childfund.org.nz or chat to ChildFund’s Donor Services Team on 0800 808 822.
For more information, or to arrange an interview contact Linda Shackelford 027 886 1760 firstname.lastname@example.org Bonar Bell 022 580 4610 Bonar@childfund.org.nz