Flaxmere in Hawke’s Bay is the kind of place where mums can become very isolated and lonely, especially with dads often working such long hours. Incomes are less than half the national average and rent can take up more than 70% of that.
After moving cities and with a brand new baby, Fern didn’t know where she could take her daughter during the day, and she didn’t have any friends or family in her new neighbourhood. Fern found a hero and a friend at Flaxmere Plunket, her name is Sarah. Sarah works as the Community Services Coordinator at the Plunket rooms. Plunket is a charity, so the amazing work that Sarah does is only made possible through donations.
When Fern came to Flaxmere two years ago she was painfully shy, didn’t know anyone and had no one to show her how to be a mum. Sarah sensed this straight away- she sees it in a lot of new mums. She could tell that Fern was a natural leader and had a strong community spirit, Fern just needed an opportunity to let her skills develop.
Sarah says ‘Fern was incredibly shy and intimidated when she first accepted my invitation to the mums’ group. It took a huge amount of courage for Fern to come along to that first session. Fern found the group to be friendly and approachable and she has become much more confident - I can see she has learned the fundamentals of parenting.’
At the Plunket Group, mums share helpful tips with other mums. Now, Fern shares what she has learned with new mums who come into Plunket almost shaking with shyness, expecting to be judged for what they can’t do for their kids. Instead, they are helped to learn what they can do.
Sarah makes sure that if something is happening in the community, her mums are there. Activities like workshops on First Foods - fruits and vegetables that are vital for brain development in children’s crucial first 1000 days. Sarah helped to coordinate the Jarmy Army which gave local children in need free pyjamas and free thermals to keep them warm over winter.
Former Children’s Commissioner and Paediatrician Russell Wills spoke to Plunket about his work in Hawkes Bay;
“I work with many families like Fern's. My experience is that Plunket uses its scarce resources wisely, to get an impact far beyond what we would expect.
I have just come off a weekend on call at Hawke's Bay hospital. Our ward is full. Full of infants and toddlers from cold, damp, crowded and poor homes. Often the nutrition is poor and parents are struggling with the stress of poor and insecure housing.
What the Plunket Family Centre in Flaxmere does, is provide a vehicle for bringing the resources of the community together so they can have much more impact than any individual could on their own.
Supporting Plunket will lead to change on the ground that benefits the most vulnerable children and families. When you give to Plunket you are investing wisely for the best possible outcome."
If you would like to support the work that Plunket does, please click on the link below.