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Accessing the right tools to thrive

20 September 2022
Greenwood Family Image

As a whānau of five, the Greenwood* family were struggling financially.

Due to the family’s tough financial situation, they were struggling to provide enough food or buy essential winter clothes to satisfy their basic needs.

Mum, Naomi*, was working full-time to help support them and the children began to display emotional and behavioural issues.

12-year-old Charlie* was particularly struggling. He had started to neglect his personal hygiene and was behind at school. Unfortunately, his situation failed to meet the criteria for a teacher’s aide, and Charlie began to fall between the cracks. Communication with the school was proving difficult, so the issues were left unresolved.

Naomi was distressed. This is when she reached out for help, and where Presbyterian Support’s registered social worker, Sarah* stepped in.

Sarah immediately recognised that the Greenwood whānau were facing numerous challenges and would require a range of support tools to help them succeed.

The priority was to ensure that the family received food parcels and a supply of winter clothing to meet their immediate needs.

Sarah’s next step was to develop a child-centred play strategy to encourage more one-on-one time between the parents and children/tamariki. Sarah said, “This greatly improved the environment at home and helped to strengthen relationships for the whole family.”

To support Charlie and his siblings, Sarah acted as a mediator between the parents and the school – including providing important background information on the family, to help build a stronger relationship. The school is now much better placed to support the children as a result.

Lastly, Sarah came up with a plan to help Charlie get back on track, including arranging a mentor through Presbyterian Support’s Family Works volunteer mentor programme.

Sarah says that she, “Knew Charlie would really benefit from spending time with a mentor, someone who could help inspire him and with whom he could enjoy fun activities and adventures.”

Also, to help with his hygiene issues, Sarah introduced a timetable and reward chart. This worked well, and hygiene issues are less of a challenge now.

The Greenwood whānau are now in a better position both financially and emotionally, but this could have been a very different story had Presbyterian Support not been available to help.

Even though the family already had the resilience needed, they were lacking the right tools to improve their situation by themselves. Thanks to Sarah’s support, they are now better equipped to deal with whatever the future may bring.

*Names and images have been changed to protect client privacy


Will you please help support other families in need?

The Greenwood whānau are in a much better place thanks to our Family Works service. Will you help us continue our valuable work by making a donation today? Thank you.

Our Family Works service

Our team of counsellors, social workers and psychologists provide a range of services to help individuals and their family/whānau when issues feel too big to manage alone.

The most important thing to do is contact us and ask for help. Our counselling and social work services are confidential and free. Call us on 0800 477 874, or email

We offer:

  • Family workers in schools and kindergartens
  • Social workers in schools
  • Counselling for children, young people, and families 

For more information about our Family Works service, visit our web page.

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