06 December 2023

Festive thanks to our Support Parents

As 2023 draws to a close, we’d like to express our gratitude to our fantastic volunteer Support Parents who give up their precious time to offer support to other parents and caregivers—you are all amazing! Our Support Parent service is a unique and much-valued part of our organization; in fact, parents supporting parents has been a core service since our foundation 40 years ago!

The 2023 theme of International Volunteer’s Day on 5 December, ‘Volunteering Weaves Us Together,’ couldn’t be more apt for this message of thanks. Our Support Parents have certainly been the thread that has bound our Parent to Parent community together over the years, one that continues to make us ever stronger 🧡💛💙.

How it all began

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world. In fact, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

It was in March 1983 that Garry Hornby, Ray Murray and parents Robin and Rosemary Jones met with a group of 18 parents, and representatives of various parent groups in the Auckland area.   

From this meeting, a group of 12 parents agreed to help set up the Parent to Parent service, and to take part in a Support Parent training course led by Garry and Ray. Training continued through 1983 with parents from various disability areas, and parents were trained as trainers too. 

While this was underway, a steering committee of parents who had completed the first course guided the development of our support service.  

By November 1983, the Parent to Parent service was fully operational and Garry and Ray stood down from the committee to ensure we would be a parent-driven organisation. 

Over the next 40 years, our Support Parent service grew and grew, from the original 12 in 1983 to 65 by 1986, 199 by 1990, and over 600 today!

This year and next

This year, we have received over 100 Support Parent requests from all around New Zealand, and we know that the families who receive support calls appreciate the kindness, sharing of ideas, and the sense of feeling less alone that the support call provides. Some of the wonderful feedback we have received this year from families who have had a support call includes:

  • “… I really enjoyed talking to her, she has a lot of knowledge and experience, so I found her very helpful. I did feel a lot better after our conversation. I think it’s just nice to have someone else to talk to who has had a similar experience …”
  • “… was wonderful and helpful … “
  • “The call was super helpful and [the Support Parent] was able to provide lots of information and guidance that provided some next steps for us with regard to university/study etc. for our son.It allowed us to connect with the right people at Massey University to be able to put in place support for our son to attend next year.”
  • “… the support call program was like a warm hug for me since I was new and anxious… I felt relieved and had an assurance that I am not alone in this …  Thank you P2P for your love and support!”
  • “It was awesome, she was great to talk to and it was nice just to hear someone else facing the same issues…. it made me feel not so alone….”

Looking ahead to 2024, we are excited to launch our revamped Support Parent training programme, so watch this space for further details! If you feel you’d benefit from doing the training as a refresher, you are most welcome to, or if you know someone who you think would make a great Support Parent, you might like to encourage them to get involved. More details to come next year 😊.

In the meantime, thank you again for all your support. Wishing you a relaxed and happy summer holiday with many best wishes for the year ahead ❤️.

Interested in joining our team of Support Parents?

The Support Parent Training Workshop is a comprehensive programme designed to empower parents of disabled, neurodivergent, or health-impaired children. It aims to equip you with the skills and knowledge needed to support fellow parents on similar journeys. The workshop focuses on cultivating empathy rather than sympathy and the importance of understanding and connecting with the unique experiences of other parents. Through interactive sessions and shared experiences, participants will delve into communication strategies to foster a supportive environment where shared challenges and successes can be openly discussed. Additionally, the workshop provides valuable guidance on the role of a Support Parent, giving attendees the necessary tools to provide effective and meaningful support while strengthening their own support network and enhancing overall wellbeing.


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