Aratupu Preschool & Nursery provides wrap-around support for whānau throughout the year. As Christmas draws near, knowing a hamper is coming and someone is there to talk to can make all the difference.

Tasha Scott and her youngest children have been coming to Aratupu for over 5 years. "It's got a great community feel," says Tasha. "The teachers are great and really know the children and parents. They make everyone feel part of what they do. I love how Aratupu engages with the wider community and helps the children to discover and learn new things about the community surrounding them."

During her time at Aratupu, Tasha has had some major breakthroughs and breakdowns. Annie Smith, Aratupu Whānau Support Worker, has helped her through the good and bad. "You don't have a social worker at other preschools. Aratupu is really special in that regard. Annie has supported me when I have experienced relationship breakdowns, drug and alcohol struggles and financial stress. She sees something is wrong when I drop off the kids in the morning and makes the time to talk," says Tasha.

The last couple of Christmases have seen Tasha and her whānau receive a Support a Family hamper which has really helped to take the pressure off. Annie has also supported her throughout the year with things such as food parcels, budgeting, parenting and help with study. "I have recently graduated as a level 6 social worker and Annie has been incredible - bouncing things off her, giving me pointers with assignments and providing encouragement when I have had doubts," says Tasha.

The wrap-around support that Annie provides is tailored to the unique needs of each parent. It can range from a 5 minute talk at drop-off/pick-up time through to intensive support for a wide range of issues. "Some of the support that she provides really goes above and beyond," says Tasha. "A while ago she helped me contact the curtain bank and Community Energy Action (for insulation). She even came to my house and helped me install the curtains."

Our sincere thanks to the Dublin Street Charitable Trust for their grant towards the Whānau Support Worker role and the Helping Parents Shape Futures project at Aratupu.

Below: A parent coffee group at Aratupu with Whānau Support Worker Annie Smith. "The parent network is pretty tight," says Tasha.

Aratupu Coffee Group