Continuing Support Under COVID-19

Over the past few weeks, our family support worker, Sofia, has been just one example of the tirelessly working Aviva staff who are trying to keep families safe in lockdown.

Born in India, she came to New Zealand to study psychology before eventually joining Aviva as a coordinator for the group educational programmes. “I organize and plan groups at Aviva. Being a coordinator and sometimes facilitator of the groups, I am able to see the transformation the participants have from when they first attended the group sessions to when they finally complete the programme. And Aviva is a part of that journey walking alongside with them.” She also regularly covers the support line and works individually with clients as needed.

The lockdown has not been easy for many of the people she works with. “With families impacted by family violence there’s always the stress of uncertainty. It just gets heightened in these situations as they don’t know what services are available out there. They don’t know who to go to, so that their needs are met.”

She recalls some of the stories she has heard on the support line over the past few weeks. A mother from another part of the country whose daughter was assaulted in the Canterbury region, feeling unable to do anything and needing someone who could give her advice and support her daughter. A man sitting in his car, boiling over with anger and scared to go inside for fear that he might hurt his partner, begging for someone to help him stop. “People don’t know how and what they can do. That’s where we come in – to support them and guide them with possible alternatives and options.”

The lockdown restrictions haven’t stopped Sofia from finding a way to help, engaging people by phone or video calls where available, and linking them with the appropriate services. Even if she cannot be there in person, if a client needs to make a difficult call to the police, she will stay on the line with them during that call just to be there. “The purpose is to be available in each and every way possible and support people in keeping themselves safe. We need to be thinking out of the box and keep engaging in this trial and error process.”

One of the things making the transition easier are the understanding clients. “Our clients have been very supportive of this new change. Whenever I’m having a discussion or telling them, moving forward what the plan would look like. They have been very supportive and understanding. They have said – We are all in this together.”

The current situation may be difficult and leaving many stressed or uncertain, but Sofia knows that having Aviva there to support people 24/7 can help. “I want people to know that what we do is important and very needed, be it in lockdown or not in lockdown,” she says. “The families that we work with, they are the families that need our support. They want to overcome violence, they want to work on their relationships, they want to lead a safe life. It’s just that they need that support, and we are here with that support. We will be supporting them every day and, in every way, possible.”

To support Sofia and all of Aviva’s dedicated staff in their efforts to support children and families during these difficult times, please consider making a contribution to