Dear Kāpiti community from Sophie

Dear Kāpiti community, this is a letter from me to you. 💙

The past few months have been extremely challenging for so many people. We have seen people struggle to put food on the table, to work from home while also looking after their kids, to have to stay at home when home might not be the best space for them to be in. Then we’ve had our essential workers who, at a time when everyone else is spending time with loved ones in their bubble, have kept us all safe and fed. They are the ones that have got us through this incredibly challenging time and brought joy to the otherwise rather lonely days of many people. 🧡

But whānau, I also believe that we have gotten each other through this. Communities have been coming together online and through their various neighbourhood networks to check in on one another, to make sure people have everything that they need and they’re feeling supported through this situation which has been new to all of us. We’ve all been so resilient – there’s no “right way” to have responded to this or to feel about what is happening at the moment because it’s never happened before. There is no one in the world who had this all figured out and community has definitely helped me ground this thought and to feel connected as we worked this all out together and as we were there for one another. 💁🏼‍♀️

Aden O’Connor and I set up a group called Self Isolation Support – Kāpiti (now working in with Student Volunteer Army). We created this to coordinate volunteers who were keen and able to provide support to those in the Kāpiti community/neighbourhood who might struggle having to self-isolate or are particularly vulnerable as our community responds to prevent the spread of COVID19. We saw this as an important opportunity to build community connection and resilience, and to look after those in our community who are particularly at risk or might just be needing some support.

There were days throughout the lockdown, especially day one, where it really did feel like an uphill battle. I think I found day one so difficult because everything felt so surreal and I was seeing everything through a negative lense but Self Isolation Support – Kāpiti and the members of this group, have meant so much to me during this time and I am sure will continue to remind me of the incredible kindness and compassion that exists within our community.

Aden and I did a few deliveries of groceries ourselves but the majority of this was done by you, members of our wider Kāpiti whānau. We had over 500 people sign up to volunteer in the space of around a week and the Self Isolation Support – Kāpiti Facebook group has now grown to over 2,500 members. We held online community morning teas and afternoon teas twice a week which were open to anyone from across Kāpiti. This acted as a space for people to meet one another, share resources, challenges and stories from life in their bubble. We even had the Easter Bunny join one of our Community Afternoon teas! 💻 🐰

There have been stellar examples over the last few months of what it means to be a part of a connected community of people being there for one another. Self Isolation Support – Kāpiti, were donated 100 masks and 100 pairs of gloves by someone in the community to equip our volunteers with. Kāpiti College donated 25 bottles of hand sanitiser and a set of hi-vis vests too. You, the Kāpiti Community, did this. 🙌🙌

Before lockdown, Kim from Paraparaumu Beach began sewing up felt signs for people to hang on their doors if they were self isolating and to signal if they might need some support. We helped her distribute these to people who needed them. This time has seen a Student Volunteer Army form at Kāpiti College, who went out individually chalking positive messages on the pavements for people when they’re out getting their fresh air. We have spoken with people on the phone who just so desperately needed someone to talk to and who are in need of some positive energy. In Paekākāriki, neighbourhood support Facebook groups formed specific to each street to make sure everyone was doing okay and to find ways to support each other while obviously sticking within the Level 4 lockdown rules. You, the Kāpiti community, did this.

I think often we can forget how much it means to people to be a part of a support network like these neighbourhood support groups or Self Isolation Support – Kāpiti, especially those living alone at this time, and how necessary it is for us to check up on our neighbours and spread positivity and messages of kindness and compassion. This is something that I hope will not just be present during this pandemic but that instead extends far into the future. Let’s keep being there for one another because there are always people that will need us, no matter the time of the year or the global situation. 🌎

So to you, the Kāpiti community, our job is not yet done. There are still people isolated, who need us. Self Isolation Support Kāpiti and the Student Volunteer Army are still here and ready to help out anyone in need. 🤎

We’re here for you.

Arohanui whānau and stay safe,

Love from Sophie

Sophie Handford

Kāpiti Councillor