Over the last few months, we’ve had a full load of fundraising activities. First was the Auckland Marathon at the end of October, which coincided with the Rugby World Cup Final (a screen was also set up for the public to watch that morning). It got windy at times, but the rain held off and there were good vibes all around (despite the ABs loss).

Our amazing supporters ranged from an experienced half-marathon runner in Lucy Tofield, who works for Project Restore, to a first-timer in Elisa Capecci, who flew up from Wellington especially for the event.

It was a day of trial and triumph; Lucy beat her personal best time, while Elisa struggled but persevered to reach the finish line, long after most of the participants had finished. Many of the young women in the Auckland University Women in Science team unfortunately had to pull out due to illness, but I was able to meet their organiser Alisha Keshaw, who managed to make it through her 11km traverse.

We applaud the efforts of all our HELPathon runners for 2023, and look forward to cheering on next year’s team. The Auckland Marathon remains one of our major annual community fundraising events.

Next came our flagship fundraiser, HELP & Soul, originally planned to be held in September well before the Auckland Marathon. Unfortunately, due to a difficult economic climate and a tense election, we came up against low ticket sales and had to rethink the event.

Taking on board the results of a survey sent across our supporters, we decided to hold a slightly more casual event than initially planned. We ended up having a seriously fun evening on Thursday 9 November at the Parnell Community Centre. The fundraising activities generated a lot of interest, thanks to the amazing local businesses and individuals that donated items. Our Executive Director, Kathryn McPhillips, and Dear Em Embassador, Layba Zubair, shared about what HELP and Dear Em have been up to, and the social change we have been working on.

We were serenaded by the fabulous Deva Mahal and were moved by her decision to share a new song, performing it in front of an audience for the very first time. This beautiful track off her upcoming album detailed a woman’s sexual abuse story and reaching out for help. Overall, we raised almost $20k. Big thanks to our event sponsors Barfoot & Thompson – Mt Eden and Remuera, and Gilmours Mt Roskill for donating the bubbles. Thank you also to Imogen, Kriti, Karen and Florence for helping out – couldn’t have done it without you!

A week after HELP & Soul, we had our stall at the Grey Lynn Park Festival. It was cloudy and damp, and the rain started bucketing down as we were packing up at the end of the day, but it was great to meet supporters in the community and people who hadn’t heard of HELP before. A little raffle also didn’t hurt to lure people over to our stall.

Mac, Ro and Polly managed to raise a cool $280 on the day, and enjoyed meeting a ton of cool and interesting new people.

Thank you very much to volunteers Polly and my Mum, and to the lady at the dog treats stall behind ours for giving us a hand.

In early December, Mac held her own at a Sunday sausage sizzle outside Bunnings Warehouse Grey Lynn, selling more than 300 sausages to the masses to fundraise as part of our December Appeal. We are so grateful to Kriti, who came along in the morning to support Mac.

Lastly, our December Appeal is on track to meet our $10,000 fundraising target with $8,325 donated so far. HELP is incredibly fortunate to have received several generous donations, with special mention to Debbie Hager, Greenwood Roche Lawyers and our very own Sue Larmer.

It was a bit of a tough year for fundraising but between our latest appeal and some generous grants that have just come through in December, we are looking ahead to an easier 2024!