INDEPENDENT NEWS

Charity helping single parents for 50 years

Published: Thu 28 Sep 2017 04:34 PM
Charity helping single parents for 50 years
“Without them I would be struggling” - Single parents find support
The plight of single parents is not often discussed, but one in four Kiwi children are growing up in a single parent family. So why does ‘single parent’ still carry such negative connotations?
Single parents face difficult statistics. According to an NZ Household Economic Survey, 56% of single parent families were in poverty. The 2013 census stated that a sole parent’s median family income is a third of a dual parent family.
A Hutt Valley-based non-profit has been working to try and combat these statistics. Birthright Hutt Valley has been supporting single parent families for 50 years.
Birthright Hutt Valley provides social worker’s who visit the family, they can help put them in touch with the right services and support them in raising their children.
Michelle, is a grandmother assisted by the charity. “[My grandchildren] came with nothing. Two of them didn't have shoes, just what they stood up in. I got put onto Birthright Hutt Valley from a social worker and they've just been fabulous.”
“Birthright gave clothes to the children; gave the kids some toys, tickets to shows.”
“I can just pop in there and feel welcome. I think without them I'd still be struggling. I don't think I would have managed without them and I think they're really supportive.”
Birthright Hutt Valley also runs a knitting group, a drop in morning tea, drama classes for the children and an annual children’s Christmas Party.
“They actually care, it's not put on. They actually care about children, they actually care about you. And I feel like I've met friends”.
Judith,* a social worker says that the single parent or grandparents are not getting any respite. “They are finding that 24 hours a day, 7 days a week they’re not getting a break”.
When the child is at school, the parent is working. But it is harder to keep a job with the child care commitments, and this leads to less earning potential.
“Social isolation is a big one, also housing and resources.” The consequences can be serious. “We’ve got families that are just not going to the GP because of the cost” says Judith.
The charity currently provides support to over 500 registered families in the region, however the demand far outweighs Birthright’s current resources and funding.
“The need in in the Hutt Valley is growing.”
One in 4 Kiwi children are growing up in a single parent family according to an OECD study.
“A child losing a parent for whatever reason is a huge risk factor.” The charity works for the rights of the children, by supporting the single parent.
“It’s about strengthening the families so that their world is calm and safe and it’s actually educating parents on how to cope with the children.”
But just like the single parent stigma, they find that people don’t know about what Birthright Hutt Valley does.
“We are also misunderstood” says Judith. “At Birthright, we believe that all children share a “birthright”: the right to a good start in life, help in times of crisis and the opportunity to reach their full potential”.
The charity hopes to fund extra social worker hours so that they can meet their growing waitlist.
To help Birthright Hutt Valley or engage their services please contact Christine on christine@birthrighthutt.nz
To make a direct contribution - https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/birthrighthutt
Short film showing interview with Michelle – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mvhhnuae0bU=youtu.be
ENDS

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