Plunket has seen a significant increase in families needing support in Western Bay of Plenty post lockdown.

Food and warm clothing were in high demand due to redundancies and lower incomes with Plunket rushed off their feet, community services manager Lisa Bardebes said.

Frozen meals and nursery equipment had been donated by local providers, as well as a special Western Bay "knitting army" started to knit clothes for families, she said.

During lockdown, Plunket adapted their Parent Education courses by hosting them online.


"This was really successful, and we are looking at offering some online courses for more rurally-based whānau going forward. We have also been handling a 60 per cent increase in attendance at Parent Education courses so are expecting to add more to our schedule in the coming year," Bardebes said.

A new project will also work to support and connect rurally based mothers who were suffering from the impacts of Covid-19, the drought, and a lack of people to work on the land.

Plunket had been providing free support services for the development, health and wellbeing of children under five years old and their whanau since 1907.

About 2200 babies were born in the Western Bay every year. More than 90 per cent of those babies were seen by a local Plunket nurse.

"We see a lot of poverty, a lot of families struggling because of the rental market here in the Western Bay. There is also isolation and a lack of traditional support networks for migrants and those who have moved away from family," Bardebes said.

She said there were a lot of families struggling in both the Western Bay and Tauranga.

"There is more of a need now than ever for wraparound services."

Community Services filled the gaps, facilitated connections, educated on children's development, and provided a platform for parents to share their struggles and learn from one another, she said.


TECT funding was sought to help run Plunket Community Services in Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty, with a TECT grant of $25,000 going towards operational costs.

"We are so lucky to be able to do what we do and have support from donors and funders such as TECT. It's really important to us that we can offer these services for free, otherwise, we just can't connect with the families that really need us," Bardebes said.