A focus on quality family time a positive outcome of lockdown

Mike Tonks edited

Dunedin Catholic Social Services director Mike Tonks said the lockdown has been good for some of the families that his organisation is helping.

Domestic violence is one of the major concerns during the lockdown, as police figures showed a 22 per cent increase in investigations as of the end of April, as against the week before lockdown.

“People with anxiety initially found that they did not find the pressures of life had changed, and it enabled them to draw on their resilience. For some, their children have become more settled because their kids are not having to deal with the stressors of school and school relationships,” Mr Tonks told NZ Catholic.

He said, for many families, the lockdown provided them time to focus on doing family activities like walking, talking, playing and simply enjoying each other’s company.

He said his organisation had been busy working out “what are the rules of engagement and how do we match that with client need, and what exactly is it that is best in supporting people during this time?”

Mr Tonks said Dunedin’s CSS staff worked from home during level 4 and 3 of the lockdown, and provided support to people through phone and Zoom. Zoom is one of the leading video-conferencing software apps.

“This includes being available for people who might be struggling with their home relationships, to have someone to talk through and explore different ideas. We are also there to help people access food and financial help where they need it,” he said.

“We have also been trying out some new ways of doing things utilising Zoom to provide Game Online, our parenting course for Dads, which went quite successfully,” he added.

Still, Mr Tonks said, they continue to work alongside the Police, Oranga Tamariki and other community agencies regarding this issue “to address this behaviour as it comes to light and to encourage people to speak up and get help”.

“The well-being of our individuals, whanau and society is more than just having food on the table”, he said. “We do not live by bread alone, and so our team are doing what they can to help people, not only with what they do in lockdown, but how they do it.”

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