Baptist social services provider Iosis marked 15 years of operation on 15th March 2021.

Celebrations were modest, with a shared lunch held on the day of the anniversary, at its Manurewa, South Auckland, base. As CEO Tunumafono Tracey-Leigh Peters explained to gathered staff, trying to organise an event during COVID-19 restrictions presented some challenges.

“Instead we will have a more significant celebration for our 20th anniversary!” she said.

Iosis was formed in 2006 and integrated several Baptist social services: Merivale Women’s Refuge, Baptist City Mission and Baptist Family Services.

Founding CEO at that time was Ruby Duncan, who is currently a Baptist regional leader for the Central Region, alongside husband Mick.

Ruby was quoted in a Baptist magazine article in April 2006 as saying, “Instead of operating in a piecemeal manner, we [Iosis] will be bringing our services together in ways that will have more impact on the lives of those we serve.”

That vision for a multidisciplinary, wraparound response has not altered, although certain aspects of the work have changed over time in response to families’ needs and changing models of practice. For example, Merivale is no longer a women’s refuge. Instead it is a six-month residential parenting programme for mothers who have experienced abuse, neglect and addiction.

Families referred to Iosis often have complex needs. These can present as family violence, financial hardship, drug and alcohol addiction, and relationship issues.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has compounded these,” says Tracey-Leigh, citing counselling as one example of a service under increased pressure in the past year.

“We have seen a sharp increase in anxiety, particularly amongst women, teenagers and children. As a result, the demand for our counselling services has escalated and the waiting list has jumped from six weeks to six months.”

However, Tracey-Leigh says Iosis staff remain positive and committed to seeing families transform their lives for good.

“We echo Ruby’s comments from 15 years ago when Iosis began: ‘We’ll continue to face the challenges and seek to become who God needs us to be in this world at this time in history.’”