It’s a busy morning at Red Cross’ Curtain Bank in Napier. A team of volunteers is threading sewing machines, stuffing draught-stoppers and checking measurements.

The curtain bank has now delivered more than 10,000 curtains, helping 1,000 households across Hawke’s Bay stay warmer and healthier. However, with winter referrals pouring in, there is plenty to keep volunteers busy.

Co-ordinator Janice Zachan says a lot of the curtains go to young families with sick children or people living with elderly relatives.

“Some of them have got no curtains at all and a lot of them are in old homes. It’s a busy time of year.”

Napier mum-of-two Aisha Puketapu recently received curtains through the programme. Today, she’s brought in a box of chocolates to thank the volunteers.

“They’ve done a brilliant job. The curtains have been awesome,” Aisha says. “It’s made such a huge difference, especially for our children. They used to get a bit sick.”

For most of the volunteers, helping people like Aisha is the main reason they lend a hand. However, there are other benefits too: many enjoy sewing and the social aspect of volunteering is also a drawcard, Janice explains.

“We call ourselves a good counselling service. We yarn about all sorts of things! We’re laughing all the time so it doesn’t feel like work.”

The programme can also provide valuable experience for volunteers. Janice recalls a young woman who had been out of the workforce for a long time when she started volunteering.

“She had lost a lot of confidence. We had her here about six months and by the end of it, she was back to work.” 

Where to find us

Red Cross runs curtain banks in Hawke’s Bay, Rotorua, Tauranga and Wairarapa. Get in touch with your local Red Cross team to find out if you’re eligible to receive curtains or volunteer with your nearest curtain bank.