Helping Plunket create connections

Danni-Elle Thomas, Whānau Āwhina Plunket - Mid Canterbury's new community service co-ordinator.
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Danni-Elle Thomas’s first big event as the new Whānau Āwhina Plunket Mid Canterbury community services coordinator, will be Dunk It for Plunket.

Plunket in Mid Canterbury offers a variety of services around the district and Danni-Elle plans on continuing the ‘‘great work’’ done by her predecessor Sue-ann Carr.

Danni-Elle plans to extend some of the programmes such as an ‘‘intergenerational’’ play group.

‘‘We currently offer one at Radius Millstream and are planning to have one at Terrace View soon. These are offered fortnightly. The residents love the play groups.’’

The play groups involve residents, parents and children coming together to play with toys and games.

Dani-Elle said it was not only the older folk who benefitted from the play groups, as the children loved having fun time with their elders.

As a mother to a 14-month-old boy, Danni-Elle knows only too well the benefit of having Plunket in the life of a parent.

When the role of the coordinator was advertised Danni-Elle said she had wanted to apply because ‘‘I wanted to get back into the workforce and give back to the community’’.

Before having her own child, Danni-Elle said ‘‘I didn’t know all that Plunket could offer families. Now as amum I appreciate what Plunket does.’’

For those living in rural areas there can be a real feeling of isolation and disconnection from others. Plunket offers an ‘‘opportunity to connect with other parents, mainly mums to help you feel connected. It also gives you the chance to talk with others who know what you are experiencing and understand what you are feeling,’’ Danni-Elle said.

Plunket services are available around the district. Drop-in coffee mornings are offered on a fortnightly basis in Ashburton, Rakaia and Methven. They are at the Plunket rooms 10am-12pm, term time in Ashburton every Wednesday, in Methven the second and fourth Friday of the month, and in Rakaia the first and third Thursday of the month.

‘‘Everyone is welcome to just pop along,’’ Danni-Elle said.

A Movement and Music session is offered at Ashburton Plunket rooms on Mondays, 10:30-11am, term time only.

It offers children, parents and grandparents the opportunity to interact with each other through play to music.

‘‘It’s a great way to get you out of the house and for families to build connections,’’ Danni-Elle said.

It is hoped to restart the Tinwald Movement and Music in the future.

Plunket offers a clothing exchange.

‘‘People are finding it economically challenging and so being able to offer the clothing exchange is something we can do,’’ Danni-Elle said.

The clothing exchange is based at the Plunket rooms in Ashburton and anyone can drop of baby and infant clothing, or take what they need from the racks.

Danni-Elle has only been in the role a couple of weeks but is really enjoying it.

‘‘Taking off my mum hat and putting on my work hat has been great. I am enjoying the challenges.’’

Her aim was to provide a safe space for children, mums and dads to connect, play, grow and learn.

Danni-Elle is available Tuesday to Thursday from 9.30am-2.30pm at the Plunket rooms, 222 Cameron Street, Ashburton.