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How is Eastern Bay Villages helping seniors / pakeke in the Bay of Plenty?

Eastern Bay Villages: Te Kokoru Manaakitanga

Eastern Bay Villages is a community group based in Whakatāne that provides support for seniors / pakeke in the Eastern Bay of Plenty region. The group received a grant from COGS in 2019 to support the implementation of Te Kokoru Manaakitanga, a community-led development initiative that focuses on reducing isolation and vulnerability amongst seniors / pakeke using a strengths-based approach. The group operate with a Tiriti-based structure, two house, co-chairs, who are supported by a co-ordinator and Pou Arahi.

The group supports individuals and families / whanau caring for pakeke and disabled family members. Unlike social services, where people become passive recipients of care, this membership group focuses on enabling pakeke to not only retain their independence but to also create opportunities to use their abilities and skills to contribute to the well-being and quality of life of others.

The group has around 130 members who have become part of a connected and supported community. The services the group provides range from support with home tasks and companionship, to the sharing of knowledge of such things as baking, gardening and crafts. They use 'home share' to support people to stay out of rest homes. In this programme they find a younger person to live with the member rent-free in return for support and companionship. There is also an advocacy group using members' skills from their former work as nurses, social workers, mental health advocates, or disability support workers. Training is provided to ensure these people are poised to help pakeke get good medical and social support. The focus is to ensure no-one is alone and everyone has a sense of purpose and belonging.

The recent COVID-19 lockdown was an interesting time for this group and they became an ‘essential service’ in the community. They even had younger people join the group and services were able to reach people who were more isolated. Connections were maintained with regular contacts and members were also able to use Zoom videoconferencing to connect for their regular virtual ‘coffee mornings’.

There are many examples of support the group has given. One story is about Terry, a musician and entertainer who needed a mobility scooter to continue to get out and about and delight seniors in the community.

Terry received some help from a member, who had a long history of advocacy and funding applications. She brought her laptop over to help Terry fill in the forms and approach people who could provide the right kind of support letters.

Terry said: “I’m so grateful. I couldn’t get my head around it. Helen made it so much easier.” Terry received his scooter and is mobile again with pakeke in the community enjoying his musical skills. 

Picture of Terry, a senior who is part of the Eastern Bay Villages programme

Terry, a musician and entertainer, who got help from Eastern Bay Village's programme and is part of helping out with his talents.

Eastern Bay Villages is not just about providing support to the elderly and people with disabilities. They also play a leadership role in the community, advocating openly with central and local government: writing submissions towards disability and age friendly strategies and Eastern Bay Villages is seen as a good advocate in communicating the needs of pakeke persons in the Eastern Bay of Plenty region.

The group have a website for further information about their services, with some great information about social connection and wellbeing for pakeke and they are always looking for new members or volunteers.  The website can be visited by following the link below: