Guardian Angels fight family violence

Each hour of each day about seven New Zealand children are caught up in family violence.

Family Works, part of Presbyterian Support Central, is calling for new Guardian Angels to help children and families experiencing family violence in our community.

The vision is to make Aotearoa New Zealand the best place in the world to grow up. Yet current statistics paint a different picture.

According to data summaries provided by New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse 2014, last year there were 95,080 family violence investigations by NZ Police. More than 60 per cent of these investigations involved at least one child under 16 years old.

In 2013, 10 children and young people were killed by a family member. Many more were hospitalised after being assaulted by a member of their family.

Family Works Central provides a range of social services to support children, young people and their families who are experiencing poverty, violence and grief throughout the lower North Island. These services include support to develop strategies for keeping children safe, as well as social work and advocacy services, counselling, budgeting advice, and parenting support and education. These services are partially government-funded but demand means there is a funding shortfall every year.

Family Works Central General Manager Julia Hennessy says there are too many children whose lives are profoundly affected by violence.

“Family Works helps 15,000 at-risk children and their families every year – that’s 40 people a day. Family violence and conflict are high on the list of the reasons for referral, along with poverty.

“In some families, violence has been normalised in day to day life. Perpetrators can change if they are given the opportunity, and their partners and children can be supported to feel strong and safe, but they need to have access to the right support.”

Julia says the Angel Month campaign appeals to ordinary Kiwis to make a difference for children like Andrew who live in fear of their lives.

“Sadly, family violence occurs in every neighbourhood. It’s a huge issue, and everyone can do something to help children feel safe, and to help make New Zealand the best place in the world to grow up.”

Horowhenua residents can become a Guardian Angel by signing up to make a monthly donation of $30 to help families experiencing poverty or violence to access Family Works services. One-off donations are also appreciated.

For more information about Guardian Angels, or to make a donation, visit www.angels.org.nz or call 0800 20 50 80.

For more information about Family Works services call 04 439 4976.