Alexis is the Fundraising and Communications Manager for Age Concern Auckland. She works regularly with Good Bitches Baking to help ensure older people in Aotearoa feel special when they have a significant birthday celebration.
Age Concern Auckland is a charity that works across Auckland helping people aged over 65 with a variety of different services including an Elder Abuse Response Service, Community Social Work, Ageing Well Community Education Programmes, and a dedicated Asian Services team offering services and support in Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese and Korean. Along with these important services, it has a Social Connections Service that provides (among other things) a visiting service that involves volunteers regularly visiting older people in their homes.
Alexis explains that 1 in 5 older people are lonely and isolated and do not have whānau support. The visiting service is a way for these people to have social connection which is important for ongoing physical health and wellbeing. Many of them only see other people in the context of medical checks or housekeeping services. Alexis says the visiting service is something very different; it is someone coming to see the older person purely to have a conversation and spend time with them.
1 in 5 older people are lonely and isolated and do not have whānau support
Maintaining social connection was especially important during the Covid-19 pandemic and Alexis talked about how Age Concern Auckland adapted their practice and began a welfare phone call service; volunteers called older people to provide social contact over the phone, with some older people requiring daily phone calls and some weekly. Alexis said as often as phone calls were needed, Age Concern Auckland made sure they were provided. In addition to this phone service, volunteers undertook grocery shopping and prescription pickups and drop-offs as well.
GBB provides baking to Age Concern Auckland for a very special reason—to celebrate birthdays! Alexis has the ‘very fun job’ of coordinating cakes for ‘significant birthdays’ (a birthday ending in a zero or a five). Good Bitches bake delicious cakes to ensure that any Age Concern member celebrating a significant birthday, who would otherwise have nothing else happening on the day or who has no whānau support, feels special. “It reminds me of a child’s joy at their birthday party” is the way Alexis described the impact the cakes have on the older people, many of whom wouldn’t have had a birthday cake made for them in decades.
While the cakes themselves are always exceptional, Alexis says it is the handwritten card that is the most special part. She says a lot of the older people keep the cards and really enjoy reading a handwritten birthday message from the baker. Alexis has the pleasure of delivering a lot of these cakes and she says she can see how special the cake and card make the older person feel, and how much love goes into every cake baked.
Usually schools provide baking at Christmas time for Age Concern Auckland to deliver to their members. However, with Covid-19 schools were not able to, and so Good Bitches Baking stepped in and provided Christmas cookies and other baking. “It was so nice for the older people to know someone was thinking of them at Christmas time”, said Alexis.
Age Concern Auckland is a charity that people can donate to, and details for how to do this are available on their website: ageconcernauckland.org.nz. In addition to donating, Alexis outlined the importance of spreading the message and liking their pages on social media so that more people can find out about the incredible mahi they do.