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The Unlimited Child – We’re made for togetherness

We’re made for togetherness

Archbishop Emeritus, Desmond Tutu, Patron of The Unlimited Child once said, “We are made for goodness. We are made for love. We are made for friendliness. We are made for togetherness.”

During this unprecedented moment in South African history, our nation has been placed on a 21-day lock-down in efforts to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus. This urgent but necessary action by our country’s leaders has had a huge effect on its citizens, particularly those living in the poorer, more vulnerable communities. It’s a time where many non-profit organisations across the country have risen to the challenge – trying to assist as many families as possible.

Partnering to save lives

Candice Potgieter is the chief executive officer of The Unlimited Child, an independent, national, non-profit organisation focused on Early Childhood Development (ECD) initiatives, currently active in eight of South Africa’s nine provinces.

For Potgieter, the health and wellbeing of the many families in their network is paramount. “Nutrition is not one of our primary activities, but we’re aware that for many of the children at the 3050 crèches we support, the breakfast and lunch that they receive every day at pre-school (provided by our nutritional partners) is sometimes the only regular meals that they would receive.  That meant that many of them would go hungry when these ECD centres had to be shut on the 18th of March 2020,” she said.

In collaboration with two of its nutritional partners – Rise Against Hunger and Zero2Five Trust – the organisation has managed to supply 20 000 families with food packs that’ll last a month, effectively keeping 71 000 people from going hungry during the lock-down.

“We reached out for help, saying that if (our partners) could provide the food, we would provide the distribution channel.”

The aid packages were distributed to the children’s parents and guardians between the 18th and 25th of March in Gauteng, the Free State, the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. Cognisant of the need to practice social distancing, the teams arranged specific pick up times for individual family members to collect the food parcels from their child’s ECD centre, and no physical contact occurred between team members and community members.

“Without (our partners’) support we couldn’t do what we do. We are fortunate enough to be serving our communities in an incredibly supportive environment, where the majority of operational costs are covered by The Unlimited, a financial services company that has invested over R40 million into The Unlimited Child over the last decade.”

About The Unlimited Child Organisation

The Unlimited Child is an independent, non-profit organisation established in 2008. Initially working with five crèches in KwaZulu-Natal, today the organisation supports early learning in 3050 ECD Centres, with over 7000 ECD Practitioners, over 217,000 children and cumulatively over 500 000 children in eight provinces including: Gauteng, Free State, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Northern Cape, Mpumalanga and Western Cape. Their goal is to reach 5000 ECD Centres by 2021. To find out how you can help the team to continue their ECD outreach initiatives, visit on Facebook or Twitter.

Staying safe during the COVID-19 lockdown

We’re living in extraordinary times that call for extraordinary actions from every one of us. As a business, The Unlimited has two main goals right now: (1) to protect our people; and (2) to carry on providing our customers with the best level of service, so they have less stress during this challenging period.

How we’re looking after our people

Our people and their families’ safety is very important to us. We fully support President Ramaphosa’s decision for a national lockdown, and we do believe it is the best course of action for our country and our teams. In order to keep providing our customers, who are our family, with the highest level of care, we’ve taken steps to help all our people work efficiently from home. Our customer care agents and our telesales teams are able to assist our customers from the safety of their own homes. They have all the necessary technology to help them perform at their best, so they don’t have to worry about being exposed to the COVID-19, or about how they can help our customers with queries and claims. Our sales agents have been trained and moved onto our virtual telesales platform so they can continue to earn a living during this crisis. We’ll continue to support them as they familiarise themselves with the technology and a new approach to working.

We’ve trained our staff on the logistics of working remotely from home, as this can present its own challenges, particularly when you’re used to working in an office environment. We’re supporting them through regular online meetings so we can check-in and make sure they’re coping with this new way of working, and to make sure they are able to look after themselves and their families during this time.

We’ve also ensured that our people were paid a few days earlier to make sure they could purchase everything they will need during lock-down, and we made sure they had time during the day to take care of the shopping they needed to do before the national shut-down. We’re aware many of our people need the flexibility to look after their children as well and are working with them to help them balance their workload and their family responsibilities.

How we’re looking after our customers

We know there is a lot of worry in South Africa right now. Our goal is to remove some of the stress from your lives. We’ve made sure that our call centre agents are still available to take your calls, help you with queries, and process your claims. In addition, you’re are able to chat with us on our website.

How we’re supporting businesses outside of our company

Our UConnect team has ensured that all our agents have data, connectivity, and they have supported the “work from home” effort. Not only that, but they’ve also set up two Businesses outside of The Unlimited, enabling them to continue to trade through our network. By doing this, an additional 100 families, outside of The Unlimited family, are able to look after their families over the lockdown. They’re also in talks with three other companies to support them as well.

We’re in this together

We’re proud of our incredible team at The Unlimited, they’ve shown that we can achieve great things when we work together, take leadership and are purpose-driven. They’ve shown true South African spirit these past few weeks as they’ve stepped up to the new challenges, embraced the new way of working, and the new technologies that we’ve implemented to help them serve our customers and community.

We encourage our people and our community to take this time to reflect on the things we take for granted, to hold their families closer, and to reach out and offer support where it is safe to do so to those in need during this challenging time. We fully understand that the next few weeks will be nothing short of challenging for our Unlimited families, but we believe that our ability to make it through this crisis is limited only by our attitudes, and our actions.

We strongly urge all members of our community to be READY, SMART, and KIND. Stay home as much as possible, only go out for groceries, and healthcare when absolutely necessary. When you’re outdoors, practice social distancing. Follow the hygiene practices recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), it will help to keep you and your loved ones safe.

Remember to practice unlimited love, caring, and support within your community — check in with your neighbours regularly via messages, keep a watchful eye on the elderly and infirm and make sure they have the supplies they need during the shut-down. Read to your children and find creative ways to keep them busy and safe indoors. Also please make sure that animals in your community are taken care of and have food, water and shelter – there is no proof that they spread Covid-19, they only spread love and comfort at a time when we need it most.

There is nothing stronger than a community that pulls together with a common goal. Please stay safe and well during this period, reach out to us with any questions, queries or claims, we’re here to help.

Regards, Woody

For more information and updates from the nationwide resource visit – SACoronavirus.co.za

CRITICAL INSURANCE FOR STRUGGLING HOUSEHOLDS

By: Andrew Wood | The Unlimited

Only 17% of South Africans are covered by a medical aid scheme, which means that more than 44 million people don’t have access to private medical care. The reason is simple: medical aid scheme contributions are too expensive for the majority of the population, which begs the question – what alternatives are available?
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in his budget speech reflected the reality of continuing tough economic times. It also left little doubt that government’s National Health Insurance (NHI) is still a long way from full implementation, with only the basic necessities being addressed for now. The unfortunate reality is that one of the first expenses people tend to cut in a tough economy is insurance – leaving themselves vulnerable to the costs associated with everyday risks such as accidents or illness. Therefore, the need to have cover for unplanned medical and contingent expenses is still very much a reality. Only 17% of South Africans are covered by a medical aid scheme, which means that more than 44 million people don’t have access to private medical care. The reason is simple: medical aid scheme contributions are too expensive for the majority of the population, which begs the question – what alternatives are available? A large percentage of low income earners’ budget is spent on food (29%-34%) and less than 1% is spent on providing for their healthcare requirements. There is little money remaining after expenses. As a result, the only healthcare product a low income earner can afford for their family is a basic hospital cash plan. The maximum amount they can pay for a basic hospital cash plan is typically less than R200 per month, and even this can be a tough ask. Insurance companies should be prioritising this market, because they have limited access to financial services. In the absence of a viable alternative apart from government options, there is a desperate need for low cost insurance products that provide some sort of cover in the event of hospitalisation. The Healthcare Consumer Survey in 2016 highlighted that affordability was the main factor for members leaving medical aid schemes, with 41% of respondents leaving their medical aid due to the high costs. This creates a challenge for individuals who want to make some provision for the direct and indirect expenses associated with a health issue, but also struggle to afford the contributions of the most basic of medical aid plans, which costs about R400 a month for an individual (and much more for a family). South Africans need a safety net that enables them to provide for their health-related expenses but at a fraction of the cost of medical aid schemes. Consumers focus on their short term needs but, it is critical that consumers also take their longer-term requirements into consideration. The lack of awareness regarding the range of available insurance products requires a responsible solution. On the back of an embattled South African economy, affordable health insurance products will continue to play a key role in enabling consumers to make at least some provision for expenses incurred when faced with an accident or illness. It’s therefore critical for South African consumers to understand that insurance is there to protect them from financial loss at any given time, especially for unexpected occurrences – regardless of income bracket. The best approach for consumers, especially those in low to middle income groups, is to educate themselves on available insurance products and services, compare prices and be open to receiving more information.

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The Unlimited is an Authorised Financial Services Provider (FSP No. 21473). Address: 1 Lucas Drive, Hillcrest, Durban, South Africa.

The Unlimited abides strictly by the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services (FAIS) Act of 2002

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For Covid-19 information, visit the South African department of health website www.sacoronavirus.co.za