‘Super Grans’ helping the next generation

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A group of super grandmothers is mentoring the next generation of mums around Nelson, teaching them basic homemaking skills to help look after their families.

The Super Gran programme, which is funded by the Minis- try of Social Development, is a free service open to anyone who wants to learn the basics of home management and life skills.

It has been run by the Te Korowai Trust in Nelson and co-ordinator Betty Soane says it has produced some very positive results.

“When these women learn new skills it gives them self-esteem and that passes down through the family,” Betty says.

“We’ve had 39 referrals to the programme in the last seven months and, with their partners and children, that equates to 116 people who are benefiting.”

Betty says the trust has a team of seven Super Grans who go into the homes and provide one-on- one mentoring for their clients. Super Grans Moya Anderson, Christine Grieder and Kiri Self say they help with a wide range of skills including practical cook- ing, budgeting, menu-planning, shopping on a budget, managing the home and establishing house hold routines.

“We show these mums all the stuff we take for granted,” Moya, a retired Plunket Nurse says. “It’s no fault of their own that they don’t have these skills – it’s just a reflection on so- ciety.”

Super Grans work with a client for three to 12 months and Betty, Christine and Moya all say it can be extremely rewarding for both parties.

The mums learn important skills and improve their self-esteem, while Super Grans gain satisfaction from helping people in their community.

“I enjoy being part of other people’s lives and helping them out,” Christine says.

“The family I have now is amazing – I’ll teach her something and then say what do you want to learn next and she’s really happy.”
Although there is a big difference in age and sometimes in values between Super Grans and their clients, Moya says the young mothers always appreciate the help.

“I had one client who told me ‘we thought you were a bit old-fashioned, but now we love what you tell us’. Those sorts of comments really make it worthwhile being a Super Gran.”

Betty says the best thing about being a Super Gran is meeting a former client two or three years later and seeing the difference it has made to their lives.

“It’s really rewarding when you come across some of the mums you have mentored and see them doing well. I see a lot of them in the supermarket, you look at what’s in their trolley and it’s very different from what they would have had in there before.

“And their kids will come running up to you and say hello. You are a big part of their family for a while and they don’t forget.”

However, Betty stresses that Super Grans do not provide a babysitting service and that clients have to be prepared to help themselves.

She says the majority of their Super Gran clients are referred to the programme through social agencies like Work and Income New Zealand, although self-referrals are considered.

The scheme is available “across all cultures” in Nelson and Richmond.

Betty says the trust’s staff also work with a new client for the first few weeks to assess their requirements, before matching them up with a suitable Super Gran.

All volunteers are “vetted” by police before they can become a Super Gran.

The trust also runs workshops under the Super Gran scheme. It has just completed a workshop on jam-making and is planning another on home safety and first aid for next month.

Betty says anyone interested in getting help from a Super Gran, or joining the Super Gran team, can phone her on 0274144960.