Text quote from Tammy's story about receiving help from Auckland City Mission at Christmas

Wednesday 15 November 2023

Seeking support at Christmas – Tammy’s story

Young mum Tammy just wants to be able to give her son and daughter the Christmas she dreamed of when she was a child. 

Tammy grew up in a family where Christmas was not celebrated.  “It was hard missing out – I wanted to be like all my friends, opening presents with family and having a big dinner together.”  When Tammy had children of her own, it was her chance to create the Christmas she wanted. 

But Tammy’s partner became increasingly controlling and abusive. Thankfully, Tammy found the courage to leave him eight years ago, for her own safety and for the wellbeing of her young children.   

Tammy and the kids now live with her mother.  Her mum has significant, complex health issues – some days she is physically unable to get out of bed – and Tammy has been her primary carer for the last few years.  

Tammy’s children both have ADHD, so she has her hands full caring for her whānau and has had to give up her work in early childhood education for now. In the little spare time she has, you’ll find her helping out her friends and their families. “I am the pillar for everyone.” 

But as the primary carer for her mother and her two neurodiverse children, Tammy’s important work is unpaid and she is struggling to make ends meet on income support. 

With the rising costs of food, housing, power and petrol, it’s getting harder and harder for Tammy to afford the basics every week.   

“My rent jumped up a hundred dollars after the landlord installed the heat pump.  I spoke to Tenancy Services, but I was told there was nothing we could do about it.  And over the winter we couldn’t actually run the heat pump, because we couldn’t afford to pay for the extra power. So we were just there in the freezing cold.” 

And some weeks there’s barely enough money to buy groceries. “I’ve always fed the children first. If they’re full, I’m happy. If there’s anything left over, then I’ll have that. We’re just about managing, but sometimes I go without.” 

“I don’t like asking for help. I find it incredibly hard. I like to be the one who helps other people and I’ve always tried to do everything myself.” 

Christmas is the one time of year that Tammy asks for help. With all the other bills at that time, the cost of a simple Christmas celebration for her children is more than she can manage. 

“It seems like all the big bills arrive at Christmas time.  And on top of that I have to pay all the school costs for my children at the start of the year.  Next year I’ve got my son starting college and my daughter is starting intermediate, so there’s two whole new uniforms, a device for my son, a device for my daughter and school fees.” 

Tammy just wants to be able to make Christmas special for her children. 

“I love seeing their faces when they open their presents. But the past few years I haven’t been able to do that on my own. And it has been quite depressing and breaking of my heart.” 

For the last few years, the Auckland City Mission has supported Tammy at Christmas time with a festive food parcel and gifts for her tamariki. 

“It’s been a huge godsend that I’ve been able to do something for them, even though it’s been little.  I love seeing them happy and excited” says Tammy. “The best bit for me is being able to have a nice Christmas dinner, having a hot chicken with veggies and pav for dessert.” 

“It was nerve-wracking asking for help the first time, but now I look forward to that little bit of support at Christmas. I’ll be signing up again this year. I’ve got all this saving to do for the uniforms and everything, so I won’t be able to do anything myself for Christmas.” 

Tammy has a simple wish for her family: “All I want is for us all to be happy.  No matter what happens in life, as long as we get through it together and are happy, then that’s all that matters.” 


*Name changed to protect privacy

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