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Mana Whaikaha update November 23

While this would not be a surprise to any of us, life can be tough and can deal some very heavy blows to people’s lives.

In many instances the day to day struggles of the people and families we are engaging with could serve to overwhelm and certainly challenge our ability to undertake the work of supporting people to even begin to conceive of the idea that life could be good.

However, two incidents that occurred this week serve to demonstrate that often it can be the smallest act  that can lift a burden from a person sufficient that they can then take a tentative and cautious step towards better.

It is often the case that at our greatest point of vulnerability the systems and services designed to support us, in fact themselves can serve as barriers..

This was experienced twice this week by one of our connectors yet through undertaking very simple acts they were able to lift that burden from people. This week we met a young woman who following the death of her child in August could not bring herself to now have to deal with the Ministry of Social Development in order to recover the cost of the funeral. Without the recovery of these costs she had not been able to afford to travel to spend time with her whānau, whose support and comfort she desperately needed.

As part of system transformation we had made a commitment to people that they would be supported to navigate the benefit system.  With the support of our Government Liaison person and the working partnership that they have established with MSD, this young woman had her request processed, the reimbursement made and is now planning to visit her whānau. She didn’t have to step one foot into Work and Income! A very stressful time made less stressful thanks to government agencies working together.

In another situation, a young man leaving school was wanting, like other young people, to enrol in UCOL. He managed the enrolment but was overwhelmed with having to talk with the team about accommodations needed for his success. His family, as with many families we are meeting, were on the verge of not coping and any additional commitment, however small, was one commitment too many for them to take on. The simple act of saying “come on I will take you and meet with the UCOL team” brought this mum to tears, but took the young man on his first step towards his adult life.

We know the challenges ahead of us all around enhancing the social value of disabled people in our community, but we should not under-estimate the impact of small acts of kindness.

Lorna Sullivan 
Director, Kaitūhono/Connectors team 
Mana Whaikaha.