Conversations with Julie McCloy

Tell us a bit about Aviva?
Aviva is a Canterbury-based social and personal change agency, which focusses on ending physical and sexual violence in New Zealand. We offer an extensive range of integrated, specialist services which are grounded within a spirit of positivity and potential. We believe in holistic support to create change, and for us that means supporting all individuals and family members to overcome family and sexual violence and achieve wellbeing; supporting people who use and/or experience violence; and offering a range of services that support wellbeing beyond mere safety.
 
What is your mission?
 
We are dedicated to making New Zealand Aotearoa a violence-free home for all who live here.
 
What services do you provide?
 
The commitment to keep improving New Zealand’s response to family violence and, ultimately, to see New Zealand become violence-free, has driven Aviva to create a wide range of innovative services, which include comprehensive support for families and individuals at times of crisis or concern and supporting families and individuals to achieve wellness and remain violence free. 
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"All of our services are offered in the belief that everyone has the potential to overcome the effects of inter-personal violence, with the right support"
 
What is the history of your brand?
 
Aviva has a long history of driving societal and social change, having been the founding refuge in New Zealand in 1973 (as Christchurch Women’s refuge). In May 2013, as part of our celebration of our 40 years of service, we announced a change in name to Aviva. We realized it was time to change and embrace a new name which reflected our changed purpose, philosophy of service and better represented the people we supported – children young people, women and men.
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"The name Aviva better expresses our commitment to potential, positivity and new life. Now, people aren’t ‘labelled’ when they come to us for support; they can access a range of support for their journey, wherever they are on that road; and whatever their experience of violence"
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Where are you located?
 
Since July 2016 we’ve been located in The Loft, on the first floor of Eastgate Shopping Centre in Christchurch. Creating The Loft, in partnership with other agencies, was something we were passionate about as we believe this model will be transformative for those needing social support. Whilst The Loft is a space, more importantly it is a vision for service by a collaboration of social, community and health services. By working together and offering shared assessment, referral and support systems we are enhancing people’s well-being. We are breaking down the silos between social services, and have created one door for anyone to walk into and receive support (even if they don’t know what support they need). That enables us to be more effective for people who are most vulnerable in our communities.
 
What other organisations are based in The Loft?
 
Partner agencies currently include Aviva; Christchurch Resettlement Services; Citizens Advice Bureau; Community Law Canterbury; Family Help Trust; Laura Fergusson Trust; Kingdom Resources; Link People; Pathways; Plunket; Problem Gambling Foundation; START; and Workwise. We are supported by an integrated primary health care centre in an adjacent space, with general medical practice, dispensary, physiotherapy, midwifery, older persons; services and in-home nursing care.
 
What are some of the realities for your clients?
 
Many of our clients have very complex needs and we need to minimize the difficulty they experience in seeking support from multiple agencies. For example, one client was identified with 11 areas of concern on their initial assessment, including housing, AOD, mental health and financial issues, alongside their identification of family violence. 
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"Making change therefore requires a lot of their energy and we need to make it as easy as possible"
 
How does your partnership with Necesse benefit Aviva clients?
 
One of the most important things for people undertaking a significant change process – which can be extremely daunting – is to ensure that the basic human needs (safe shelter, clothing, food etc) are met. Necesse helps us do that. When money is tight – and it is for many of our clients (because of financial abuse, inherited debts, losing a wage that supports the household, having to set up a new home etc) – then you buy the absolute essentials – food, power, rent etc.
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For us as women, we’d consider sanitary products essential to our lives, but on the scale of what’s absolutelyessential, they come below those other things. They are a regular monthly expense, and if there is more than one female in the home, they can be a burdensome expense. People simply cannot afford sanitary products sometimes, which means they go without and then stay at home, away from work or school, to avoid embarrassment.
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"Having steady access to so many tampons through Necesse means we can take that worry - and embarrassment - away from many women"
 
How do you distribute donated products from Necesse to women/girls in need?
 
We have them in a donations cupboard, and staff – not just our Aviva staff, but staff of other agencies living at The Loft with us, and our front of house staff – will check in with clients whether they need anything, particularly if they are aware money is an issue. Then we simply give them what they need. People don’t want to have to ask for help with tampons or food, but they are so grateful when it is there for them.
 
How can people find out more information about Aviva?
 
They can visit our website: https://www.avivafamilies.org.nz