The Change Maker giving thousands of Kiwi families the tools to survive

  • 26/02/2021
  • Sponsored by - Dell

Tayla Nasmith says she's aware she didn't exactly have a "normal" childhood. At age 12, the Aucklander helped family and friends gather goods to load onto a shipping container, and send off to the Philippines to help with community recovery after a tycoon. 

"I got such a buzz from it," she told Newshub.  "It felt amazing -  time I could have been playing with toys went to helping people. It was the start of an addiction - 'what's next, how can I help more?'"

It's this attitude that now sees the now 19-year-old crowned as February's Dell Change Maker, thanks to her every-growing charity - Mummys in Need. 

Dell and The Project have been recognising New Zealanders who have made a positive social impact in the community through the Change Maker campaign.

Mummys in Need, which provides baby clothes, toys and goods to struggling pregnant and new mothers, was started by Nasmith when she was just 12 - hence the slightly offbeat name. 

"I don't know how or why I got away with it but at age 12 I started a Facebook page - that's why it's spelt wrong, I couldn't spell," Nasmith, now 19, says laughing. 

"Funny story - every day we have at least one or two people message us to say 'hi, do you know your charity name is spelt wrong? I have to say 'yes, thank you'." 

Nasmith says it's "incredibly humbling" to be crowned a Dell Change Maker, but credits her parents with much of it, including her drive to begin a charity.

"I always knew I was really lucky -  we didn't have a lot but I had everything I needed, so I knew that made me different from a lot of kids - I was just super aware."

Indeed, her mother became the "backbone" of Mummys in Need, washing baby clothes and driving Tayla around to drop things off around the city. 

"It was a really cool bonding thing for us." 

Nasmith continued to build her charity over her high school years, again foregoing the typical high school experience to package up clothes, toys and bedding for families. 

"I didn't have a social life, I didn't have friends, I just wanted to do this.

"I was packing boxes of baby stuff in the school holidays when normal kids were seeing friends - but it was worth it knowing that some baby out there was going to be safe because of me." 

Nasmith says as support grew, she was storing goods in their spare room, her room, and under her neighbour's house - even on their deck. 

Eventually she obtained a storage container to store the ever-growing number of goods. 

'I took the crazy option'

Nasmith planned to become a family lawyer, and even attended law school after graduating high school in 2018. But she says only a couple of months in she "knew it wasn't for me", and she felt it was going to be too many years before being able to make tangible change in the community. 

She left to become a receptionist at a local law firm, while still continuing her charity work. 

"I would work 8am-5pm, come home, shove dinner in my mouth, then head down to the storage unit until 10pm at night. Then I'd get up and do it all again the next day." 

Eventually, something had to give. 

"It was about either stopping MIN or deciding to take it on full time - I took the crazy option."

Mummys in Need now helps around 1500 babies each year, with the Facebook page boasting over 11,000 likes. 

Nasmith says the online community is one of their biggest strengths. 

"Our social media grew hugely -  it's something I pride myself on. We're really big on being transparent on the social media page," she says. 

"I let people know where the stuff is going, and I'm really transparent about what's going in and what's going out. When I started to share about what's going on and who we were helping, it just grew and grew." 

She calls the online space her "favourite place". 

"We call it our 'little village' - we have an incredibly supportive community on our Facebook page - I see posts and I'm like 'wow so many people know about us'. 

"It didn't used to be like that - it's only really taken off in the last six months. It makes me so happy to see people [recommending us], because I want us to be the first thought when people have stuff to give.

The Change Maker giving thousands of Kiwi families the tools to survive

"That means when people need help - young pregnant women and mothers - they can think its 'ok im going to contact Mummys In Need, i'll see how they can help.'"

Alongside MIN, Nasmith has also received funding for her programme 'Giggle and Grow', which provides a support worker for mothers in need. 

"I didn't want to just be like, 'here are 5000 products you need and good luck'. My mum is now  employed to go out in the community and she absolutely loves it. [She visits] mums who are having a hard time mentally, and she can pop to the supermarket for them, or look after the child while they have a sleep or a walk." 

It's this old adage of putting on your own oxygen mask before applying someone else's that Nasmith says is key. 

"A mother needs a full cup to give her children a full cup. It's so important they are also looked after - it's just as important they have somewhere to turn for help." 

For hundreds of women, that person is Nasmith - and she's loving every minute of it. 

If you know someone who goes that extra mile to support and shape a better future for their communities, nominate them here and they could be a winner of a brand new Dell XPS 13 laptop.

This article is brought to you by Dell