Newsletter 21 October 2021

Kia ora Woolston Development Project whānau,

The year is certainly nearing its end, and the weather is getting warmer. With this, it’s really important that our OSCAR programme children wear their sunhats and sunblock when they are outside. Rachel has purchased some extra hats and the children are required to wear them and sunblock when they are playing outdoors. So far there don’t seem to have been too many issues with this.

COVID-19 vaccinations: We don’t know if we are under the government’s education workforce vaccine mandate, and we are seeking further information. For the moment, until we get a definitive answer to this, I am encouraging all staff members to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Many of us are already fully vaccinated. All new staff members will be expected to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

If it turns out that we are covered by the government’s education workforce vaccine mandate, any unvaccinated parent/caregiver will be required to collect their children outside in a socially distanced (from other children) manner and won’t be allowed inside the building. It seems highly likely that we are under this vaccine mandate but we don’t know because we aren’t on a school/kura site like most OSCAR providers are. I have sought further information from the Ministry of Social Development, and they don’t quite know yet either. They are seeking further information from the Ministry of Health.

Playground: At the moment the only hold up in getting the new play equipment in place is the fact that there were concrete pads beneath the railway carriage which require more than just a simple jackhammer run by a volunteer to extract. If you know someone who can come in and remove these for us, please let me know. We can’t allow the play equipment to be installed on top of them because we don’t want injured children! I’ve contacted three different companies about getting rid of the concrete and only one of them has come back to me with a quote, which needs updating now he’s actually been on site and measured up. The earliest he can do the work is Show Week, but if someone else has contacts and can arrange something sooner, I’m open to that subject to it not being too expensive!

A huge thank you to our annual funders for their generosity this year. Most of our annual funding arrives in the July-October period from funders like the Rātā Foundation, Christchurch City Council, and the NZ Lottery Grants board. We are also grateful for the funding we have received from the Ministry of Social Development through their OSCAR grants and OSCAR childcare subsidies that parents/caregivers apply for and gets paid directly to us on behalf of the whānau. Without the MSD funding, our OSCAR programmes wouldn’t be able to run. Parent/caregiver fees don’t cover half the costs we incur for the programme.

The October holiday programme was great. We had no major dramas on the programme and staff and youth volunteers worked well together. We said goodbye to Max Anderson, OSCAR programme assistant, and we are currently running a recruitment process for his replacement. Next week I will follow up on a couple of applicants who seem to have merit based on their CVs. We have already interviewed one applicant.

Wharepaku/toilet signage: In these days where inclusion is valued and understood so much more, I have (with the board’s blessing) ditched the gender labels on the toilet doors. I have ordered proper indicator locks so we can shut and lock the doors behind ourselves and if a child does have trouble unlocking the doors, staff can unlock it from the outside and let them out.

Parking: There is absolutely no parking allowed on site for OSCAR programme families collecting their tamariki. The carpark out the front is for staff only during OSCAR programmes. It is only available for other people using the premises (like hall hirers who need to bring in supplies, for example) outside OSCAR programme hours. The neighbours behind us get very annoyed if the driveway is blocked by vehicles unless we have expressly given them notice (like when the railway carriage was being removed) so they can leave their car out on the street. We would really appreciate it if people respected this rule.

We are planning an open day for sometime in November, but this requires the play equipment to be installed first. We will keep you posted.

Ngā mihi nui,
Eddie Hayes
Woolston Development Project.