Meet the Vanilaus, new faces for Wellington Curtain Bank

August 15, 2016

Vanilau family

We've got some new faces on the posters we use to promote the Wellington Curtain Bank - the Vanilau family, from Porirua. They're former clients of the Curtain Bank, here's a little about them. 

Porirua mum Catherine Vanilau said their house was so damp they had to stop putting their clothes in the cupboard: “They were getting all mouldy, so we had to pull them out.”

Her husband Saga and their five kids were living in a private rental in Porirua when they connected with Sustainability Trust.

The family were eligible for a free home assessment and advice service called WellHomes, which advocates for families with housing-related health issues, and the services of Wellington Curtain Bank, which provides free curtains to low-income families.

At the time the family were also looking after two nieces – it was two adults and seven kids in a three-bedroom home. “The place was so cold we all had to live in one area,” explains Saga.

They had one heat pump, but with moisture issues, inadequate curtains and the home split over two levels, it was not enough. The kids were often sick with colds and coughs and sometimes strep throat.

Sustainability Trust worked with the Vanilau family to tackle the condensation and reduce the mould, switch to eco-bulbs, and sorted them out with efficient heater and bed bases.

Upcycled, lined curtains were provided  for their living room and bedrooms. After that the kids were able to move back to the bedrooms, but Catherine and Saga’s room was still too cold.

We talked with the landlord about some big changes they could make – better  fixed heating, insulation, ground vapour barrier – but at the time they were unable to make the investment.

The Vanilau family ended up moving – taking their lined curtains with them – and are now much cosier in a single-level home with good heating and armed with more information about how to keep a healthier home.

“We didn’t realise this channel was available to us, it wasn’t until we started talking to you guys we saw what was available,” said Saga.

“We’d encourage other families to make the most of it.” For more information about the Healthy Homes programmes offered by Sustainability Trust please contact Miranda Struthers, Healthy Homes Manager, on

If you're a Community Services Card holder and you'd like to find out about getting free, lined curtains, find out more here or call us on 0508 78 78 24 x 705.

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