Swati | Hillsborough

“Hi, this is Swati and I’m residing in Hillsborough, Auckland and I’m working here in Panmure as a community worker. 

So we are running a playgroup here named Safari Playgroup. Our playgroup is mainly for migrant and refugee families. We support the families to come together, get out of isolation, and provide them with some services and encouraging them to get some self-dependency. We are offering them some English classes to enhance their language because these families, they come here and they don’t have any friends or family around, so they feel very isolated. So, this is a service we provide them to get together.  

The idea is, the playgroup is for under five-year-olds, so we get the kids prepared for school, as they are the migrant and refugee background.  Their cultural backgrounds are different. So, we try to make some activities which relates to their culture, and which is also involved in the curriculum with ECE, Early Childhood Education. Another part of the playgroup is we are supporting the mums basically, and the families.  So, we arrange English classes for them. We have so many parental supporting programs for them. There is also another group joining us here every Thursday. They are providing some life skills. They’re teaching them some life skills to enhance their abilities and we are really grateful for the Council for this service, and the great support from the Panmure community hall and the hub.  

We have started this playgroup around two years back, and when we started here, literally there is nobody here, we started from scratch. But with publicity and word of mouth, and other organisations helping us, now we have reached to a group of 25 families.  So, it’s a big number for us, and we are really proud to support those families who are from migrant and refugee backgrounds. They have no support at all, but we are trying to make them self-sufficient, and this is a big achievement for us. They feel like they have friends and family around, away from their home.  

So, I’m from India.  I came to New Zealand seven years back as a migrant, and I always wanted to work with some group which helps the migrant and refugee families. I feel like if I support those families to settle in, this is something I can give back to society.  So, under the umbrella organisation which is Belong Aotearoa, previously known as ARMS, Auckland Regional Migrant Services, we are providing these services here, and this is a great opportunity for us to give something back to the community, which we belong to.”

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