Real Stories | The Salvation Army

Real Stories

How your support is changing the lives of Children, Youth and Families

Read below the story of how your support is changing the life of tamariki in their early years.

For many whānau, finding quality early childhood care can be tricky, but for one family, the stress of health conditions and moving to a new country made this journey even more difficult. Helen Armstrong, our Salvation Army Early Childhood Education Centre National Coordinator tells us a story of the impact that supporting family in the early years can have.

"A refugee family from Iran was referred to the Early Childhood Education Centre from The Foodbank, as Salvation Army staff learnt that Mum has a chronic health condition and cannot care for their two year old son alone. Previously this has meant that Dad has had to stay home, but this has been difficult as he needs to work and study.

When the family came to us, we urgently enrolled their son as Mum needed an urgent surgery and a hospital stay. Having no family in New Zealand has meant that previously, this would have been a struggle and source of great distress. Our team stepped in to provide urgent respite care for this child during Mum’s stay in hospital. Now that they are back on their feet and settling in to the rhythms of the centre, Dad can study and work and Mum can take care of herself better while their little boy experiences the joy and benefit of a quality ECE program.

This child is thriving. He is learning to be a part of a social community, beginning to speak English, communicating well and developing a healthy routine. We have also been able to support the family to make positive changes at home, including but not limited to dietary improvements, sleep and routine improvements, less screen time and healthy, positive ways of supporting his behavioural challenges. All the while, this family develops an extended whānau in New Zealand and feels as though they truly belong somewhere caring, compassionate, and supportive.

We have been able to be a safe space for this child to benefit from the support of both Plunket and Oranga Tamariki and bridge the trust, language and communication gap that existed previously for the family with these organisations, that was preventing this child from receiving the adequate care.

When things are tough for this family, as they often are, we are able to pick up the phone and check on how they are doing, providing whatever support we can to ensure that they are thriving. 

Recently, during a particularly difficult time, Mum was unwell, and the family were unable to bring J into the centre, as Mum couldn’t drive. After a phone call to Mum, we determined that they needed additional support and made a home visit to drop off a food parcel, nappies and milk. The family live in a small, bedsit motel room on the 2nd floor of a concrete building, where they have been for over six months. There is no access to outdoor space for J, and the balcony is very unsafe for him. The home visit further reinforced, not only the support we provide, but the importance of J coming to the centre every day and experiencing the abundance of rich play and learning opportunities we provide.

Recently, Mum shared the following feedback, after we were able to offer the family further intensive support through our involvement in their lives as the ECEC:

“ I am so grateful and happy that my son is able to go to the centre every day. I want to thank you, for all your support. The management and teachers are perfect and my son really loves all his teachers. They are all so kind to us.

Since our son started, he has learned so much. The most important thing for us is that he is so happy and he is learning so much English language every day.

The centre is so supportive and helpful for our family. We receive food parcels when we need extra help, even coming to visit at our home and helping us and they support us with extra hours for our son, which especially helps when I am sick. I’ve now had help from social workers, housing support and parenting support through the centre.

I would like to say again, thank you, so much for all your support ”