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Sovereign support a major boost for Buddy Day


Thursday 13 November 2014

Sovereign support a major boost for Buddy Day

New Zealand’s largest life insurer, Sovereign, has taken its support of Child Matters Buddy Day (Friday, 14 November) to a new level, with a company-wide approach that transformed staff into advocates and provided a significant boost to the campaign.

Encouraged by CEO Symon Brewis-Weston, Sovereign rolled out an activity programme that began several months ago. The programme included educating 700 Sovereign staff across three regions (Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch) about the impact of child abuse on New Zealand’s mental health statistics and the role everyone can play in protecting children within their community. Staff were also armed with tools to raise awareness through their own networks.

“We started by giving our team custom-designed invitations they could send to local primary schools encouraging them to design Buddies. This resulted in more than 2,000 primary school students getting involved - a truly fantastic result. Staff also gave out more than 1,000 mini buddies to children they knew,” says Sovereign CEO Symon Brewis-Weston.

Sovereign staff worked in teams to design 50 of their own Buddies, which were displayed around Sovereign’s head office building for several weeks. The creations were judged by artist Otis Frizzell and World designer Denise L'Estrange-Corbet, both ambassadors for Child Matters.

“I also challenged our executive leadership team to lead by example and invite five people from outside of Sovereign along to Buddy Day breakfasts. In all, 100 Sovereign staff and guests will attend Buddy Day breakfasts across the country.”

To leverage social networks, Sovereign will host an Amazing Race style event internally on Buddy Day, rewarding participation and encouraging staff to share images of their Buddies. Local businesses in Smales Farms are also on board with the event.

“I am proud by the level of commitment, energy and enthusiasm the Sovereign team and our wider community have shown in getting involved with Buddy Day. It is incredibly important to protect the future of New Zealand, which is our children, by raising awareness of the role every adult plays in creating safer communities,” says Brewis-Weston.

“This is an important issue for us. There are clear links between child abuse and mental health issues later in life, in fact more than 30% of Sovereign’s disability income claims are due to mental illness.”

The support of Sovereign has allowed Child Matters to expand the Buddy Day programme across four centres in New Zealand.

“This year, 1500 adults have adopted a Buddy. We estimate those people could initiate around 45,000 conversations about the steps every adult can take to protect children in everyday situations such as in school, at home, on sport teams, at workplaces and social gatherings,” said Child Matters CEO Anthea Simcock.

“For twenty years, Child Matters has worked in communities across the country as advocates for children. We sometimes come across people who believe child abuse is someone else’s problem. Through Buddy Day we want to quash this attitude and promote a message that reaches across socio-economic, cultural and political boundaries,” says Simcock.

“The issue is not too big to deal with. All it takes is for each one of us to consider what we can personally do to make sure that children in our circle of influence live in safe, stable and nurturing environments. Buddy Day is the first step in getting people involved and talking about what they can do.”



Sovereign’s community programme focuses on building better mental health and wellbeing for communities, particularly for youth who represent the future of New Zealand.

Mental illness is a leading cause of disability in New Zealand. More than 30% of Sovereign’s disability income claims are due to mental illness, while an estimated 47% of New Zealanders will suffer from a mental illness sometime in their lifetime As New Zealand’s largest life insurer, it is important to Sovereign that we take action now to support young people and provide a safe environment within which they can thrive.

Sovereign’s charities of choice include Youthline and Child Matters, both of which support education and intervention in the youth space. We also work with Conservation Volunteers and Auckland Volunteering.

A partnership with AUT University’s Human Potential Centre has developed New Zealand’s first Wellbeing Index, a comprehensive survey of New Zealanders’ quality of life. The next round of Sovereign Wellbeing Index survey results will be released early in 2015.

Find out more about Sovereign’s community and wellbeing programme here.

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