Looking at her grandchildren waving and smiling from the curbside of her Westmere home once a week, Ana Mon is reminded what it means to be a vulnerable person during Covid-19 lockdown.

The demands of social distancing are never more stark for the 63-year-old as she glimpses Sofia, 10, and Tomas, 9, repeatedly halting their efforts to go and embrace her.

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"The children are finding this quite difficult. They want to hug and kiss and get close, so we have to keep reminding them we can't do it for now. It has been very hard," Mon said.


The grandchildren visit weekly, on short walks from their nearby home in Grey Lynn.

Mon and her grandchildren were originally in the same bubble, but have decided to keep their distance as a precaution following the escalation in Covid-19 spread, and Mon's bout of ill health last year.

However, the increased isolation for the central Auckland resident has also served as an impetus to seek out those even more marginalised during the level 4 lockdown.

By all reports, Kiwi charities across the board are struggling.

Ana Mon, 63, gets to see - but not touch - her grandchildren once a week at her Westmere home in central Auckland. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Ana Mon, 63, gets to see - but not touch - her grandchildren once a week at her Westmere home in central Auckland. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Mon has been donating to the Spend My Super initiative launched last year in which superannuants can donate all or part of their super to a collection of 12 children's charities.

Spend my Super chief executive Lorraine Taylor said among the 12 charities there has been an overwhelming request for groceries - which is complicated right now by the fact they cannot accept food directly from the public.

Taylor is aware of the stress the elderly already feel amid their heightened Covid-19 risk but the charity is expanding to also take direct donations from the public.

"We're acutely aware that our organisation's usual target donors, the elderly, are among those hardest hit by Covid-19," she said.


"So Spend My Super is calling on all New Zealanders, including 'Super Young' People, who can give, to give, knowing that their gift will provide our impactful children's charities with the resources they need to act with immediacy.

"We have the perfect platform to get money to these charities quickly as we don't take a cut."

The charities who benefit from the Spend My Super initiative are in unison on the dire need for added support. Their demand has skyrocketed.

Variety children's charity president Richard Spilg said the unemployment increase of the last fortnight has hit families abruptly.

"These families are already struggling but with one or both parents losing or faced with the possibility of losing their jobs, or having to get by with reduced income, the situation is quickly taking them to breaking point," Spilg said.

"And even as we come out of lockdown, food security will remain a major issue for these children and their families"

Women's Refuge chief executive Dr Ang Jury said 50 per cent of its families were utilising motels and this number would inevitably increase as lockdown progresses.

"We have been working closely with [the] Government and are very grateful for the extra funding distributed thus far. We are facing many extra costs, including accommodation and food, as public donations are not a possibility," Jury said.

The refuge has also seen a 62 per cent increase in demand for housing.

For Mon, who is still working as an interior designer, the decision to donate her super was not difficult.

"I'm not at the age of retirement yet so I'd like to contribute to help other families in need because I think this situation is going to bring lots of pain to families with young children," she said.

"There a lot of families that don't have extended families that can support them, and they have lost their jobs. I'm not saying that retired people should give the money away but we can all help a little bit. A smile on a kid's face is the best reward."

Megan Purcell age 7 talks about what she thinks will happen to Easter this year due to the Covid-19 lockdown. Video / Dean Purcell

Yet a strain remains the physical distance from her grandchildren.

"I am at high risk because I was sick last year so I have to make sure I follow all the instructions," Mon said.

"But it's interesting what my grandson said. He said, 'Yes it is difficult but you have to make the best of it' and, I mean, he's 9 years old."

Sign up or donate to Spend My Super here.

Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website