Jo Hayes is the founder of Surrogate Grandparents New Zealand Charitable Trust (CC54933). We took time out to chat to Jo about herself and her motivation behind this wonderful incentive.
Hi Jo, can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a single, ex-pat mum to two beautiful children aged almost 5 and almost 9 and have been living on the Coast for over 6 years. I came to NZ on an OE in 2003 and fell in love with the place, the people and the lifestyle and have now made NZ my home. My family all reside in the UK. My work background is in Sales, Hospitality, Office Management and the non profit sector.
So tell us a little about Surrogate Grandparents and what motivated you to start it?
Surrogate Grandparents connects families with surrogate grandparents to forge long lasting friendships and family bonds.
The idea of Surrogate Grandparents arose from my own personal need for support in raising my children. This became all the more important when I separated from my husband and I had never felt so isolated and lonely. My parents reside in the UK and although visit often, are not there on a day to day basis to help and support me and my kids. What I really needed was a NZ Mum! I was so lucky and blessed to have found one, and not only that, I now have a whole new NZ family.
The difference this made to my life has been astounding, and I realised that connecting families with grandparents and vice versa would actually benefit so many people who, like myself have no parents/grandparents for their children nearby. The Charity was founded in 2017 as a way to support families and prevent social isolation and loneliness of our seniors.
And what do you find most rewarding about what you do?
The most rewarding thing about what I do is actually connecting the families & grandparents. When you get a perfect match it is fantastic! You really feel like you have made a huge difference in people’s lives, and I have so much feedback to prove this.
I also get to meet some pretty awesome people in doing what I do from our fabulous volunteers through to the social services and others working in the nfp/voluntary sector. All the most amazing, giving and caring people that you could want to meet.
What do you find most challenging or frustrating with what you do?
The most challenging thing without a doubt is funding, or rather lack of it! We are not funded to provide the service that we offer, and rely upon donations and currently my bank account. So we are always looking for support in this area from grants, local business and corporate organisations to help us achieve our goals of becoming an intergenerationally connected New Zealand. We’d love to hear from any local or national organisations who would be willing to sponsor/support/partner with us in any way to ensure we can continue to provide this valuable and important service for every generation. We’d love to be able to expand it further to help more families/grandparents in NZ.
Secondly, the lack of funding has made it difficult to attract volunteer grandparents to join us as members, and we are currently running a waiting list for our families to get grandparents.
How has your organisation developed and what would you like to see in the future?
The organisation has developed from its small beginnings as a local non profit organisation based on the Hibiscus Coast to being a National Charitable Trust with members from Kerikeri right down to Christchurch and beyond. We have over 140 members currently. We have a Board of 5, and 6 Regional Coordinators covering Hamilton, Wellington, Blenheim, Nelson, Christchurch and Auckland, as well as a number of “ad-hoc” volunteers who help out when they can.
We have organised a variety of other Intergenerational projects and have run several Intergenerational Play/Coffee groups both on the Hibiscus Coast and in Hamilton, and a trial of “Table Talk” a drop in Intergenerational meetup for the local community being run at Whangaparaoa Library each Wednesday afternoon.
What would you like to promote around Surrogate Grandparents?
We’d love to promote the fact that we do need more volunteer grandparents and funding as above. We also have a Movie Family Fundraiser being held at Hoyts Hibiscus Coast on 3oth November for the new Frozen 2 movie and tickets are available at fundraiser-movie-spectacular-frozen-2.lilregie.com
We operate on a membership basis and applications are made through our website at www.surrogategrandparents.org.nz. There is a small application fee for families to join but currently it is free for grandparents, although we do ask for a Koha to cover essential programme running costs. All our members, both families and grandparents go through compulsory police vetting, and are subject to reference checking too to ensure the safety of all involved.
We are on Facebook, Instagram and Youtube so please check us out and support us!
We love the Hibiscus Coast, the beaches, the community feel and the wide variety of things to do and places to go and this isn't diminishing as the Coast grows, although we are finding there are rather too many sets of traffic lights than the old days!