Wraparound support for new mums and their babies is a very literal concept at Greenstone Doors. Greenstone Doors, based in the Hutt Valley, supports people through times of change, difficult decisions and uncertainty in their lives.
Free baby clothing, playgroups, pregnancy tests, counselling services and access to support networks are some of the practical ways they help families, especially those facing the challenges of a new baby on the way.
Pregnancy news a pivotal moment
Founder, Wendy Hill, says it’s a pivotal moment in a woman’s life when she learns she is pregnant.
Wendy began the registered charity as a practical response to pregnancy. Some years ago, she was a co-ordinator for Pregnancy Counselling Services, which operates a 24/7 phone helpline.
It is a great service, she says, but there was a need for more practical support.
So, Greenstone Doors was begun in Lower Hutt.
Its core services include free pregnancy tests, free baby clothing (both new and used), information about access to support networks (such as Plunket, Women’s Refuge, Maternal Mental Health and young family help organisation Nāku Ēnei Tamariki) in the Wellington region, help with grief and loss, especially the loss of a baby during pregnancy, and the provision of free counselling services, support groups and play groups.
Service open to all
The service is open to all and questions are never asked about [a] client’s income, Wendy says.
We believe we should be generous.”
Clients range in age from teens to their 40s. There are no doctors or nurses on-site and Wendy says clients appreciate it is solely a place for social support. Some clients come to Greenstone Doors because they have not had good experiences elsewhere during previous pregnancies.
Wendy says they are seeing more clients who are grandparents raising their grandchildren. And they have helped people who have attended a family group conference in a support role and found themselves taking home young family members. One woman suddenly had a baby and primary school child to care for but with nothing for them.
They also help women who have moved to the Hutt Valley to escape violent relationships.
Founded on faith, hope and love
Proudly faith-based, Greenstone Doors was founded on the Christian values of faith, hope and love. Key values are offering practical support, sensitivity to those at a vulnerable time of life, while recognising the dignity of every person.
The name Greenstone Doors – Tātou Pounamu was chosen because, in Māori tradition, pounamu was used to symbolise and seal peace agreements between tribes.
Enemies exchanged pounamu to represent the presence of lasting peace and their hopes of a fruitful future.
Pounamu is still exchanged to symbolise events of great importance, and the gift signifies dignity and honours people.
So Greenstone Doors – Tātou Pounamu is a name which recognises the gift of ‘walking alongside’ someone as they enter into a new life experience.
Greenstone Doors has two paid staff, volunteer counsellors (all training with current practising certificates) plus a team of about 20 volunteer helpers.
The organisation leases a commercial building at 15 Dudley Street, near the Riverbank Carpark in Lower Hutt.
They began with only part of this Lower Hutt building but have expanded as demand for more space grew.
This has allowed creation of private counselling rooms and a large playgroup area to the rear.
One of the playgroups is called Cicada and is for Mandarin-speaking children, who are often brought along by their grandparents.
It’s been running for two years and gives the children the opportunity to play with other children and practise their shared language skills.
Migrant families find support
Migrant families are an unexpected group who have joined the playgroup in Lower Hutt and been helped by Greenstone Doors.
Many don’t have family here and Covid-19 has prevented some of them from returning home or having family travelling here to support them during the birth of their babies.
Wendy says some have told her their regular visits to various groups run at Greenstone Doors are the highlights of their week.
Fathers are also catered for at Greenstone Doors. It recently secured funding for a men’s discussion group programme called Tāne Talks. In Upper Hutt (although previously in Lower Hutt) they run an eight-week men’s parenting course called Great Fathers.
Expanded to Upper Hutt
Just before the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown, Greenstone Doors opened a branch in Upper Hutt at the Chanel Family Centre on Fergusson Drive, north of the city centre.
Wendy says there were a lot of Upper Hutt families wanting to access services but struggling to get to Lower Hutt.
At the Chanel Family Centre there are two playgroups plus a young parents’ support group and counselling services.
Wendy says they hope to increase the number of activities at the centre.
“We want the community to be using it more.”
A particular hope is for a voluntary barista to run a community café using equipment that is already on the site.
Greenstone Doors is funded by grants and private donations.
People can help it through regular donations, gifts of baby clothes, fundraising help and through volunteering.
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