Within the Disaster Response Grant - Covid-19, Riccarton Rotary is working with the Shirley Village Project team of the Shirley Community Trust, and the Oak Development Trust in Riccarton, to mitigate the ongoing aftermath effects of Covid-19 with vulnerable individuals, families and sections of the community.

The project is based on categories set by the Rotary Foundation: Health, Food & Agriculture, Housing, and Education. It is ensuring that our community focus of a ‘hand-up’ holistic approach is meeting the needs of their people.

Rotarians are engaging with the project leaders and the community members where and when appropriate. As you would expect supporting fragile and vulnerable community members needs well-skilled people in those communities, however Rotary is well placed with members to wrap around the day-to-day interpersonal interactions and be on call to meet needs when they arise.

Typical situations arising include:

  • Loss of employment and resulting poverty
  • Unable to return to home in another country
  • Split families and concerns for those abroad
  • Language barriers, skill barriers, ‘access to service’ barriers
  • Loneliness, isolation and mental health issues
  • Exclusion and marginalisation
  • Need for shelter, warmth, food, and clothing
  • Reluctance to approach agencies and medical professionals

Recent key activities of our Project leaders have been:

  • Community gardening
  • Gardening for the elderly and incapacitated
  • Teaching gardening skills and providing plants
  • Tool shed set up and loan scheme
  • Winter firewood preparation and delivery
  • ‘Drop-in’ mornings to resolve issues and access services
  • Sewing and cooking classes for Migrant women
  • Migrant pre-schoolers and Mum playgroup
  • Culturally appropriate food ‘pantry’
  • Foot clinics for the elderly
  • Food vouchers
  • Medical support provision
  • Period-poverty product provision
Riccarton Rotary: Shirley Village Project — Image by: Riccarton Rotary
Riccarton Rotary: Shirley Village Project — Image by: Riccarton Rotary

Wherever possible the project leaders ensure that resourcing from Rotary is used for activities which have several outcomes relevant to The Rotary Foundation’s Areas of Focus. Activities are multifunctional. For example, the refugee and migrant women who attend the cooking and sewing classes are: learning and practising English, socialising and networking, learning how to use New Zealand food products wisely in conjunction with their own required foods, budgeting, receiving food products to supplement their needs, learning how to hand-sew and use sewing machines from donated resource materials, making simple clothing items for themselves and their families, learning where and how to purchase materials necessary for sewing. 

Riccarton Rotary: Shirley Village Project — Image by: Riccarton Rotary

The women are exceptionally proud of their efforts and those of the class companions. As winter approaches the projects are beginning to focus around keeping warm, well and connected with limited resources that they have.

Article source:  District 9970 Newsletter, April 2021 as written by Valda Cordes, Riccarton Rotary — May 3, 2021