Hundreds of vulnerable whanau will receive support from a procurement specialist under a new charitable initiative that will provide customised product packs to help them get through the colder months.
Brook Turner, head of service development and partnerships at Visionwest Community Trust, says their new Winter Warmers campaign is designed to help struggling whanau navigate the financial ‘pain points’ of winter and the introduction of the procurement specialist model has several advantages in helping them achieve this.
Each of the whanau the Trust supports is assigned a key worker who assesses their individual needs and works with the charity’s procurement expert to purchase essential items on their behalf. Allocating the Trust’s limited resources through a centralised specialist who can negotiate volume purchasing deals, allows the individualised support process to help the maximum number of each whanau across the region.
Turner says winter, Christmas and back-to-school are the three times of the year that families are most under pressure and the procurement specialist and key workers provide individual support to help in buying products as well as budgeting education.
“From a health perspective, winter is the most critical time of need for whanau on a low income – without the capability to stay warm, they are at higher risk of illness such as influenza.
“At the same time, house rents are now at record levels – particularly in centres like Auckland.
“What we know is that a one-size-fits-all approach to charitable support doesn’t work. If you have someone who has already spent their limited funds buying a blanket, giving them another blanket when they need warm pyjamas or a heater isn’t the best way to help.
“The advantages of assigning a procurement specialist is really about leveraging procurement logistics and economies of scale when purchasing the similar items for multiple whanau,” he says.
Turner says Visionwest partners with local businesses to purchase essentials that could be as low as cost price plus 10 per cent – saving hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.
He says not only does this save the family the time and resources needed to shop around but they can purchase higher quality products at a lower price.
Trusts CEO Allan Pollard, whose organisation is raising funds for the initiative says the innovative model stood out for them at a critical time of need.
“A primary objective of our organisation is to identify more efficient ways to support the community and ensure these charity models are adequately resourced when they most need it.
“Every week around 300-350 new whanau approach Visionwest for help. They aim to ensure that within six weeks they no longer need food support because they are getting budget advice, and they also provide housing and employment support.
“Visionwest’s personalised approach to supporting whanau means thousands of locals will not just have a more comfortable winter but will be given the individual tools necessary to help them budget more effectively for future expenses.
“We know the need is there and as an organisation we want to help groups like Visionwest scale up over time to provide support for every family that needs it. Sadly, right now they are having to choose to support only the most vulnerable,” he says.
Pollard says their customers will be given the opportunity to donate 50 cents at the point of purchase in their West Auckland retail and hospitality outlets over the coming weeks. The Trusts will match every donation which could provide an additional $20,000 to the Winter Warmers charitable initiative.
Turner says they will also launch a peer-to-peer campaign that encourages fundraisers to either be a ‘Walking Warrior’ or a ‘Onesie Wearer’.
“As a Walking Warrior, they can nominate a distance they can commit to walking and ask their friends and family to sponsor them. Alternatively, they can be sponsored to wear a onesie or pyjamas for a day, whether it is at work or picking the kids up from school or even in a board meeting,” he says.
To find out more visit winterwarmers.org.nz