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Funding helps Mount lifeguard service stay afloat

The Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service on Mount Main Beach. Supplied photo.

Cancelled weddings, a decline in business bookings, and postponed private functions – it’s a fate many venues have had to face since lockdown.

But for charities that rely on such bookings to fund their service, it’s been a major blow, one requiring some tough decisions in order to survive.

Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service counts on its venue bookings and grants to fund their operational costs. During the lockdown, all bookings had to be cancelled, and funding from trusts dried up.

To help stay afloat, the club reduced its staff hours and wages and restructured its existing staff model.

But a busy workload remains, with the lifeguarding season just around the corner and their volunteer 24/7 emergency response team on call no matter the lockdown level.

Mount Maunganui Lifeguard operations manager Jessie Hines says while it has been tough for the team, they are adapting and working together to get through this uncertain period.

“Our amazing volunteers and staff have really stepped up and everyone is taking on new roles and doing what needs to be done.

"We want the Club to get through this and we want everyone to be safe out at the beach and around Mauao, so we will continue to do what needs to be done to keep our club running, so we can get through this together.”

With summer just a few months away, the club have been preparing for a busy season. But with no international lifeguards, and concerns around future travel restrictions, Jessie says their volunteers are aware this year will be a bit different.

“Some of our lifeguards don’t live in Tauranga, so if more travel restrictions happen, they won’t be able to come for their patrols. Our volunteers are aware that this year will be a little different, so they know to be around if needed – they are truly amazing and will make sure our patrols happen.”

The club applied for funding through the WBOP COVID-19 Recovery Fund, established by local funders TECT, Acorn Foundation, BayTrust and Tauranga City Council, to help cover their income shortfall.

With a grant of $30,000 approved, Jessie says the funding is keeping the Club going.

A wedding taking place in the function room. Photo: Supplied/Turama Photography.

“We breathed a massive sigh of relief when we found out the funding was approved. It’s that day to day operational stuff that is so difficult to find funding for – all the work that goes on behind the scenes to ensure our community is kept safe on our beaches. It’s also all the overhead costs like power, phone bills, even keeping the first aid room stocked, it all adds up.

“The aim of our Club building was to be self-sufficient, but that is just impossible at the moment with the venue cancellations and postponements. We have done all we can to cut down costs to keep us going, but the Recovery Funding is truly helping us survive. We are so grateful for our local funders’ support.”

Acorn Foundation General Manager Lori Luke says the funding will provide great assurance that the Club can continue their service, ensuring we can enjoy the beach and area safely.

“The Club provides a vital service in our region, looking out for our safety on the beach and providing first aid and emergency response support to Mauao and Pilot Bay.

“They do this at no cost to our region, year-round, with countless training and volunteer hours behind it. We’re pleased this funding will ensure the Club will get through this uncertain period.”

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