Finding a Guide Through Uncertainty

COVID-19 has left many of us feeling unsure, like we don’t know what to do or what is happening. But can you imagine trying to navigate that uncertainty while also trying to protect your family from violence?

Cayden Hays*, his wife, and their three children had been staying with extended family and living with violence long before COVID-19 reached New Zealand. “We were stressed, under pressure. It was an intense situation.” They had already debated reaching out to Aviva on multiple occasions when the lockdown went into effect. “There were five of us living in one bedroom. Having the lockdown meant we had to be at home 24/7. It sort of heightened everything.”

A single violent incident with the extended family late one evening finally pushed the Hays to call the police and reach out to Aviva for support. “By 10 o’clock the next morning we were already in touch with our support worker and she was sorting things out with us. She was quick to jump in and help us. It was good knowing she was there.”

It wasn’t a typical situation, the entire family needed to be removed from their home - both parents, their three children, and their pets. A refuge wouldn’t be able to take them all. “It was a super weird situation. We didn’t know what to do,” Cayden explained.

But Aviva did. Within a few hours their support worker, Sofia, had organised emergency accommodation for the whole family and coordinated with SPCA to take the pets. “It was good to know the next few days were sorted, and we could just relax,” said Cayden.

The Aviva team contacted some other supportive agencies and 'friends of Aviva.' Within a few days, they enabled the family to move into a new home, furnished for them. The SPCA dropped by and reunited them with their pets.

“The best thing was knowing that we had somebody there to help point us in the right direction. When everything started happening, there were loose ends everywhere that we didn’t know what to do with, so having Sofia there to walk us through each step was amazing,” Cayden explained. “Just knowing that she was leading the way made all the difference. To take off that weight of ‘What’s going to happen?’ Not just keeping things on track but having someone to share the load with, it allowed us to start the recovery and healing process.”

That time to recover and heal has been invaluable for the Hays. “It’s like a weight lifted off our shoulders. Not just for us as parents, it was a big weight, but for our kids as well. They’re finally able to relax. It was a whirlwind where we were staying. It isn’t until you get out that you realise how heavy it was.” 

Sofia has continued to check-in with the Hays every few days. “The follow-up has been amazing. Just before Easter she got in touch and organised a food parcel for us. That was really amazing.”

Even under lockdown, Aviva staff are working tirelessly to support people like the Hays to stay safe. “All under lockdown, they made it all happen. We absolutely felt supported,” Cayden said. To help keep your community safe from COVID-19 and violence, please consider making a donation to Aviva at

*Not his real name.