Helping out in times of need

Helping Hands Southland directors Tania and Leon Hartnett. Photo: Supplied

EMPATHY, respect and professionalism are the cornerstones of Helping Hands Southland, a new business which provides help for people during their most vulnerable time, whether it be downsizing, relocating to a rest-home, decluttering or estate clearance.

It was after Invercargill resident Leon Hartnett’s father died in Ireland a few years ago, when he realised first-hand how difficult it was to sort his father’s estate.

For his wife Tania, her experience when her grandfather moved into a rest-home and had to downsize, confirmed there was an opportunity to help others in similar situations.

“How do we honour those things that are precious to them? What things do they treasure and want to keep?,” were some of the questions she wondered.

As a result of their own experiences and seeing a need in the community, the couple set up Helping Hands Southland to provide care and professional estate management services which were custom designed.

“We provide a unique estate clearance service in Invercargill which supports families with the practical tasks involved in settling the residence of a deceased relative or for people who are moving into supported living, or downsizing.”

Clearing an estate could be overwhelming, particularly when people were grieving, Mrs Hartnett said.

“It’s a caring, respectful way of helping with the physical clearing of an estate, especially for those who are not able to be there to do it.”

For some families it may not be possible for them to deal with estate clearance in person, especially with the Covid-19 situation and if they lived overseas, for health reasons or their family situations.

“People may not be able to travel, or be able to physically sort out an estate.

“We can take them through via a video walk-through and catalogue everything to show them what there is, which makes it easier for them to decide what to do with everything.”

Each situation was unique and flexibility was the key to ensure their needs were met, Mrs Hartnett said.

Services included storage, moving or packing; property cleaning; preparation for sale including (furniture) staging the house and minor work, rubbish removal and estate clearance. Continued upkeep such as lawn mowing was another option.

“Because every person will have a different reason for our services, we custom design to suit their needs.

“Some may want us to clear everything, others may only need minor work.”

Any items which were not wanted, the team could organise to be sold, or donated to a charity.

“For example, if the deceased supported Hospice, then we could arrange for items to be delivered there,” Mr Hartnett said.

“It’s about honouring the people.”

From the point of contract, whether in person, over video-conferencing, phone conversation or liaising with trustees to make a plan, they aimed to have the property emptied, cleaned and ready for sale within a week, he said.

“We aim to make it as quick and as painless as possible for them.”