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Ensuring Kiwi children have something to look forward to this Christmas

United Way and New Zealand businesses partner to ensure more Kiwi children have something to look forward to this Christmas

Christmas is a firm date in the calendars of children the world over. However, not every child looks forward to Christmas. United Way New Zealand is once again partnering with businesses to make sure that’s not the case for a few more young New Zealanders.

According to Statistics New Zealand, about one in eight New Zealand children lived in households reporting material hardship in the year ended June 2019. And with Covid-19 resulting in job losses, financial pressure, interruptions schooling and social routines, this Christmas will be particularly hard for many New Zealand children.

United Way NZ CEO, Teresa Moore says this will be the second year United Way has run its Christmas Shoebox Campaign and it is looking to increase the number of families it can help this year.

“Last year we partnered with 28 groups to make sure 1022 children didn’t wake up with nothing to open on Christmas morning. This year we want to double that number.”

Moore says organisations are now looking for activities to re-engage employees following a very fragmented year. 

“Community impact activities are an often under-utilised employee engagement tool, and in a year where so much is out of our control, the simple act of filling a shoebox to help a child enjoy Christmas a little bit more, injects a real sense of achievement.”

Moore says organisations that participated last year reported really positive results, with increased engagement and positivity at a time of year where people are often running out of steam. Businesses also enjoyed the fact that participation is easy, with United Way New Zealand delivering boxes to workplaces, then distributing them to community groups across the country when they were filled.

And while participation injects some Christmas spirit into the workplace, the impact on recipients and their families is significant. Moore says every parent wants to give their children a good Christmas and the relief and gratitude expressed by families knowing they had the support of their community was quite often life-changing.

“Last year our shoeboxes went to children in refuges who had left everything behind to escape domestic violence, they went to families struggling to put food on the table and to those spending their first Christmas in New Zealand, separated from their own culture and family.”

“Thanks to people all over New Zealand just filling a shoebox, 1022 children and their families, were able to enjoy a little bit of Christmas magic. We think every child deserves that.”

For more information on the 2020 United Way Shoebox Appeal please click here

Sally O’Brien joins the United Way New Zealand team

At United Way New Zealand we’re partnering with an increasing number of New Zealand businesses looking to maximise the impact of their CSR and community engagement activity. So, we’re excited to announce that Sally O’Brien will be joining the United Way New Zealand whanau as National Partnership Manager.


Sally brings a wealth of experience working in both large private sector organisations and the not-for-profit sector. She began her career in the public sector, moving to roles in managed funds in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Following time out to grow her family, Sally was appointed as Volunteering Auckland’s employee volunteer coordinator where she assisted organisations with their corporate volunteering projects.


Sally is hitting the ground running at United Way New Zealand, getting stuck into helping us and our partners achieve our goal of doubling the number of children who will receive gifts this Christmas via our annual Christmas Shoebox Project. We’re sure you’ll be chatting to Sally soon, but in the meantime here’s the lowdown on United Way New Zealand’s newest team member.


How do you like to start your day?

With tea and a good morning cuddle from my kids. 


What is the best thing about living in New Zealand?

The freedom to roam around different landscapes and the understated kiwi sense of humour.  


What attracted you to United Way NZ?

I was fortunate to spend time with Teresa at a couple of workshops and cross business meetings and was impressed with United Way’s enthusiasm for partnerships with business and the not-for-profit sector. I like how United Way New Zealand has an all-encompassing approach to CSR and a ‘can-do’ attitude.


What is your favourite place in New Zealand?

Garston, Northern Southland 


How do you think organisations can best help New Zealand community charities?

Partnership is a great way to help not-for-profits and charities. Mainly because the benefits gained by both sides, leveraging skills and resources, and impact are best gained through this unique arrangement. It's also the best kind of business where doing good and doing well can work in harmony. 


What is the best advice you ever received?

“Always leave the party when you are having the best time”. My late Mum told me that years ago and, as usual, she was right. Thanks Mum


What was your best day at work ever?

Helping a group of volunteers run a Special Olympics Basketball competition. A lot of the corporate volunteers didn't know the first thing about the rules of basketball and were asked to referee. Once they got over their fear they just jumped in and made sure the kids got their competition day up and running. I think the volunteers actually got more out the day than the kids. It made me realise just how important the helping of others does so much to lift spirits. Something that resonates in the world right now I reckon.  


What do you like to do in your spare time?

I am learning how to garden having no real success in the past so starting with apparently ‘no brainers’ like succulents.  This is from someone who can’t grow mint so wish me luck!!


 I like running in the Auckland  Xterra events. My husband and I also enjoy live music and we are looking forward to getting back to seeing bands from New Zealand and abroad soon.


Tea or coffee?

Both! Tea first thing in the morning and coffee before lunchtime



Life Matters - Dedicated to reaching zero suicide in the health system.

Life Matters is building a community that supports young people around New Zealand suffering with anxiety, depression and other mental health issues. 

Navigating the mental health system can be complicated.Research done by Life Matters have found that there are 5 key issues for individuals trying to reach out for help in New Zealand

  • Difficulty Accessing Services - Finding a service that has enough room, especially during the spike in mental health issues during the Covid-19 lockdown is a problem for people all around New Zealand


  • Lack of Compassion - Many mental health professionals are volunteers and can be overworked, meaning that people needing treatment for mental health do not get the correct attention needed to help overcome mental health issues. 


  • Lack of Follow-up - Often, after seeing a mental health professionals, people are just left to go on with life by themselves. Follow-ups are just as important as treatment. 


  • Inadequate support for families and loved ones - The mental health system provides no guidance to families who have lost a loved one to suicide. After a suicide, comes grief. Huge, monumental, incomprehensible grief. While navigating this grief a family is also then confronted by the vicious bureaucratic realities of death: funeral expenses, tying up loose ends, debt collection agencies, legal matters and, too often, questions of culpability.


  • Stigma - seeking health can be difficult for anybody, especially when there is a stigma around mental health issues and seeking help. We should be committed to ending the stigma surrounding suicide and mental illness. If we, as a society, can talk loudly about these issues that affect so many of us, then these barriers to support can be broken down.


Each of these key issues have been identified by Life Matters as reasons for individuals not truely getting the help they need. 


Man in sun


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Just Zilch is New Zealand’s longest running free store

Last week we called Rebecca from Just Zilch to have a chat to her about how Just Zilch has grown from its outset to become the biggest free food store in New Zealand!


How did Just Zilch Start?

Just Zilch started because I was volunteering at another organisation that had leftover food. I got permission to give that food away around town. I found I was always really busy and people were responding to it. I then found out about the concept of a food store and though that was a great idea seeing as that was what I was basically doing! I took that idea and over the next 9 months developed it and found a team that were wanting to work with me. In June 2011 we opened?


How has Just Zilch changed?

The growth has been unbelievable. In the first year we were serving around 80 people a day. Now, we have over 300 people come through the shop a day. The sheer numbers have drastically increased. This has meant we rely on a whole lot more on volunteers.


What challenges have to Covid-19 lockdown presented?

Because we were not clarified as an essential service, we worked with other social services such as the Salvation army and Methodist food banks and gave them the food we collected, and they put it into packs that were then delivered to households. This provided some

 relief to families that were low on food.


What are your plans for the future of the food bank?

It has been really amazing because, over the lockdown period, we got more food than we ever had before. Particularly in terms of non-perishable food. This is very exciting because we have been able upscale the other part of what we do which is keep food in our warehouse which we acquired last year. This meas. We have been able to give food to other community organisations. Whanganui, Levin, Rotorua, Hawkes bay and even the South Island! We have had the help of very generous transport companies such as PBT helping us with this.

What are the guidelines around donating food?

There are no rules really. We are set up to take perishable foods. If people have food from their garden like fruits and vegetables, we are able to take them. If people are cleaning out their cupboards and are able to donate it, we will take those kinds of things too. Even if businesses want to donate bigger lots of food we are able to take that too!

What is your volunteer process?

It is really, really easy! We now have a volunteer coordinator as we have to many volunteers!

We ask people to email or come in and see the volunteer coordinator.


What are the volunteer’s responsibilities?

It depends what they’re doing. We have around 110 volunteers every week. We have a shop so in the morning some duties include cleaning, collecting food. When the shop opens, we need shopkeepers/servers.


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Corstorphine Community Hub's mission to promote wellness

People smiling

Corstorphine Community Hub is a place set up by the community for the community. Operating in Dunedin the hub opened in 2013 with a community garden, but today they have grown to become a centre where whanau can access a broad range of free health and social services, attend workshops and classes, collect free food or just come along to meet people and enjoy the company of others.

The hub provides a food share on Fridays to around 130-140 whanau in need each week. The food is delivered to Corstorphine team, unpacked, repacked and put into family boxes for those who need it to pick up. With the help of Kiwi harvest being their main providers, Corstorphine was considered an essential service throughput the lockdown period, and they were able to provide a sense of relief to the families they support.


We spoke to Dale at Corstorphine Community hub:

“As recipients, we had the pleasure of meeting one of the providers of Kai to Kiwiharvest and discuss with them the issues whanau face when shopping for our most basic necessity, food. Countdown staff recognised the increase in declined eftpos transactions and wanted to talk to a community group to find out how we work with whanau to support them and what were the most unaffordable items for whanau, that was simple, fresh fruit, vegetables, meats and cleaning products.. This is a first for us all, recipients meeting providers through the awesome mahi of the KiwiHarvest team.... Kia manuia koutou and thank you for your constant support."

“At the end of the day its all worth the smiles, tears and relief to whanau.” - Dale Pene-Smith, Corstorphine Hub Coordinator.

If you would like to donate to Corstorphine community hub;

Click Here


3M and United Way New Zealand joined forces recently to help community charities and support services across New Zealand experiencing increased demand for their services due to Covid-19. On behalf of 3M, United Way New Zealand has distributed NZ$89,975 (US$59,000) in emergency funding to 16 community charities across New Zealand which are on the frontlines of supporting New Zealanders with the effects of the global pandemic.

A total of 98% of community frontline charities have been directly affected by Covid-19 according to research conducted in April  by United Way New Zealand, managing a surge in demand alongside reduced sources of income. United Way New Zealand Chief Executive, Teresa Moore said small to medium community charities are acutely affected as they are the first port-of-call for those in need and do not have in-house marketing or fundraising resources.

“While there’s no doubt that Covid-19 is impacting everyone; young people, the elderly and those living with mental health challenges, economic hardship and family violence are disproportionately affected, says Moore. 

“Thanks to 3M we were able to get funding straight to those charities on the frontlines, so they could help those most affected by Covid-19,” said Moore.

Community charities are also being approached by increasing numbers of people who have not needed support before. Food banks across the country have reported daily demand increasing more than 20 times. A charity supporting the elderly received over 1200 calls in three days as shopping for groceries online became necessary, and mental health charities, particularly those supporting youth require funding to bring in additional counsellors to support a growing number of young New Zealanders in crisis.

Charities are expecting demand to continue to grow for another three to six months, and not drop for quite some time. Many are bracing for the wage subsidy scheme which is coming to an end next month.

“Since the outbreak began, 3M has addressed the COVID-19 pandemic from all angles and across all stakeholders, and this includes supporting our community partners around the world,” said Chris LeBlanc, Managing Director, 3M Australia and New Zealand. “It’s important that 3M holds true to its core values during this pandemic by supporting our communities and improving lives. Throughout this global crisis, we will continue to look for ways to help in the fight against COVID-19.”

United Way New Zealand works alongside donor organisations such as 3M to maximise the impact of their CSR by designing and executing bespoke workplace giving and volunteering programmes which align with that organisation’s people, values and the communities they work within.

"It's rewarding to know our funding is going to where it is needed most," said LeBlanc.

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Dunedin Curtain Bank's Warm Winter Wonders!

Curtains make a significant difference to the warmth of a home. A third of all heat loss in an uninsulated home occurs through windows. Even double-glazed windows let out more heat than uninsulated walls.

  • A study found that within households containing a 9 month old baby, 18% put up with feeling cold to save on heating, 11% used no household heating, and 22% of the babies had heavy condensation in their bedrooms.
  • 19.7 thousand children below the age of 5 were hospitalised due to disease of the respiratory system; and 27 thousand adults aged 65 and above were hospitalised due to disease of the respiratory system.
  • Over 7 years Dunedin Curtain Bank has given out 3,000 pairs of curtains.
    Last year they gave over 450 pairs of curtains throughout Dunedin and its greater area.

The Dunedin Curtain Bank up-cycles unwanted and unused curtains, lines them, and distributes them to those in need in the Dunedin community.


rows of curtainsLogoWoman Sewing


Dunedin Curtain Bank gets donated used curtains which they check for suitability in health, warmth and length. If they make the grade they distribute them to those most in need in the Dunedin community. They then line the curtains of all children's bedrooms, the main heat source room of the house and we line all the curtains in houses of client's suffering severe medical conditions.



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AVIVA - Live free from Violence

Aviva is available 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. 

Last year, the staff of Aviva and their volunteers supported 1224 children, young people and adults from across Canterbury. They responded to 4066 phone calls to the emergency line they supply.


The staff at Aviva provide continual support to children and families. Over the past few weeks, Aviva staff member Sofia has been tirelessly working to make sure families are safe in lockdown.  “I organize and plan groups at Aviva. Being a coordinator and sometimes facilitator of the groups, I am able to see the transformation the participants have from when they first attended the group sessions to when they finally complete the programme. And Aviva is a part of that journey walking alongside with them.” Sofia, originally coming to New Zealand to study psychology found she loved watching individuals grow as they come to Aviva. 

“I want people to know that what we do is important and very needed, be it in lockdown or not in lockdown,” she says. “The families that we work with, they are the families that need our support. They want to overcome violence, they want to work on their relationships, they want to lead a safe life. It’s just that they need that support, and we are here with that support. We will be supporting them every day and, in every way, possible.”  

Baby and Mum

  • Aviva supports people of any age, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation who:
    • use (or are at risk of using) violence 
    • are experiencing, or have experienced family violence 
    • have experienced recent or historic sexual assault/rape 
    • are concerned about someone else who may be at risk of violence or using violence 





Aviva Logo

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Garden to Table is changing the way children think about food.

The Garden to Table programme is teaching children the essential skills they need to be food-resilient. Garden to Table aims to create an enthusiastic culture that encourages children to get their hands dirty in learning how to grow, harvest, prepare and share fresh, seasonal food.


Boy gardening$20 will help support a child in the Garden to Table programme for a year.


Donate Here

Garden to Table also has wider community benefits when the children bring home what they have learned about growing, harvesting, preparing and cooking good food. Children develop increased self-esteem, pride in their achievements and pride in the environment, and behaviour improves in some children.

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Servants Health Centre is Dunedin's only free healthcare clinic.

Many people in Dunedin struggle to pay for healthcare and in turn receive no healthcare support at all.

Founded by two doctors and a midwife that recognised this problem, Servant Health centre was established to help those in the Dunedin community that needed access to health services. 

All services are FREE. Servant Health Centre wants to create equal opportunity to ANYONE wanting healthcare services.



man getting doctor's checkup

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