Supergrans is a charity that shares knowledge with those who need encouragement to better enable them to manage their resources. Staff and trained volunteers share their practical knowledge and skills in cooking, gardening, budgeting and other home management skills, supporting families and individuals to develop the skills to help themselves.

Supergrans original premise in Hampshire Street, Aranui was damaged in the earthquakes. Administration offices are now at the Foundation of the Blind in St Albans, but staff and volunteers are still working with people in their homes and in hubs across the city.

Helen Burke is a Supergrans is an in-home volunteer….

The 2010 Women’s Lifestyle Expo brought Helen Burke to Supergrans Christchurch. She says her work as an in-home volunteer was something she’d thought about doing years ago, when she had time.

Besides working in my husband’s electrical business doing the books, and looking after a grandchild, I wanted to do something for myself,’ says Helen.

‘We have a big family of three sons and three stepsons, so it was always a challenge to make a large amount of food on a budget and I enjoy being able to pass on these skills.

Helen’s clients may range from young mothers gearing up to become independent and go flatting, to those keen to pull their weight at home. Top of wish list is often the need to prepare hearty nutritious meals on a budget, and find economical ways to shop for ingredients. Meal preparation, baking, and household routines are covered.

‘We usually talk about the recipes we are going to make and how to look for ingredients in the supermarket. Supergrans has just put out a very good recipe book, Healthy Eating on a Budget that includes suggestions for what you should have in your pantry and tips for working with certain foods such as chicken. I have used a couple of recipes from that.’

Helen works with each of her clients for six weeks, completing a diary to monitor progress. Another six weeks is added if it’s going well. She meets with clients in their own homes for an hour each week, in addition to preparation time for each meeting.

‘My mother always did voluntary work. I was a leader in Scouting for 17 years and enjoyed working within the community. After retiring from Scouting I felt it was time to move on to something else.  It’s good to be busy while the family is so involved with sports.

‘While it can be a wee bit daunting the first time with a new client, it is certainly very rewarding work and good for me as well. The girls I work with do enjoy it, perhaps because we don’t place a huge amount of pressure on them. You get a lot of pleasure out of making a difference.’