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Not all superheroes wear capes

Life can throw up all kinds of challenges, and sometimes you need a guiding hand to help navigate the storms. SuperGrans Tairawhiti is leading the way in their region, helping whanau improve their daily lives with practical help.

The philosophy behind SuperGrans is simple – they share the skills and experience of people of all genders who have brought up families with those who are just starting out, or have hit major life speed bumps, like addiction. Manager Linda Coulston says the organisation is “very much about ‘doing the do’ alongside people,” and they’ve been doing the mahi since 2001.

Gisborne-based SuperGrans Tairawhiti is one of the biggest SuperGrans branches, and they offer everything from free weekly cooking classes to one-on-one mentoring sessions on a range of topics. It’s done in a gentle, non-judgemental way that helps build the confidence and self esteem of those attending.

Their aim is to pass on skills and knowledge to help whanau improve their standard of living, and over the years that has evolved, depending on what the community is seeking. They also work with government organisations like Te Puni Kokiri, Oranga Tamariki and the Ministry of Social Development, and this enables them to have two social workers to help their clients when the need arises.

SuperGrans Tairawhiti has also become a bit of a hub for the community to donate goods, as well as putting the call out for essential items like bedding, mattresses, clothing, household items and child car seats, collaborating with other organisations who identify a need for these in the community and getting them to their new homes. “We helped one young lad who needed shoes and pants, and we managed to kit him out with two pairs of new shoes and some clothes to put a real smile on his face.”

Linda says they get some lovely feedback from people they’ve helped over the years. One client took their Transformative Life and Employment Skill Course, and turned her life around from a low point where addiction meant she no longer had custody of her children and she was contemplating ending her life.

She learned how to budget and cook again, discovered how to plant and grow her own vegetables, and maintain her car. SuperGrans also helped her to create her CV and apply for jobs. Over a two-year period, she was able to gain back custody of her children, secure a suitable home, and SuperGrans helped her kit it out with donated items to help the family settle in. She’s now giving back to SuperGrans by volunteering and helping other addicts and their families on their journey to recovery.

“As a small trust, we are able to reach, respond, and really help clients through any major barriers that they have, promptly. We try not to have too much red tape, and our door is always open, and a cup of tea waiting. We are indebted to all our funders for the support they give us to help people help themselves,” says Linda.

About SuperGrans

SuperGrans is a volunteer service founded in 1994 in Lower Hutt. There are now eight branches around New Zealand – Gisborne, Palmerston North, Pahiatua, Levin, Masterton, Lower Hutt, Dunedin, Katikati and Mangere – and all branches are set up as charitable trusts and run autonomously. SuperGrans welcomes volunteers from all parts of the community to help.