The right of women and children to live free of violence is at the heart of the philosophy and practical service offered by Hastings Women’s Refuge.
Hastings District Council is again supporting the refuge to run its programmes, granting $25,000 from this financial year’s Contestable Grants Fund. The fund is distributed annually to groups developing or delivering a community service or project which fits with Council’s aim of “building a safe, liveable, sustainable community”. Council is profiling successful applicants from the most recent grants round.
While providing women and children with a safe place to stay is the most publicly recognised women’s refuge service, there is a broad range of other help the staff can provide to women; from advising them of their legal and financial entitlements and arranging appointments with lawyers, doctors, police and government departments as necessary, to accompanying them on appointments and helping them access assistance from other charities.
Hastings manager Julie Hart said calls for help could come at any time so they ran a 24 hour crisis line. “From there, we can go to the caller, or they can come to us; whatever suits and is safest for them. Their safety and the safety of their children is always our paramount concern.”
Helping the children heal from violence is also a big part of their work, through a Tamariki Programme.
“We aim to teach them safety skills, improve their self-esteem, and instil in them that what is going on at home is not their fault and that they are not alone,” said Mrs Hart.
“The funds from Council go towards the cost of advocating, supporting and providing safe housing to families affected by violence. We receive around 40 per cent of our funding from central government but it does not cover research and development and without this we cannot keep up with the changing world and the ever increasing need for services. The other 60 per cent we need to find through other avenues.
“While we specialise in working with women and children, we also recognise that there is a lack of services available for men affected by domestic violence and we hope to be able to grow this part of our work,” said Mrs Hart.
“This year's funds from Council have been very gratefully received. They mean we can feel secure knowing funding is available to help us meet our vision of families living violence free in our community.”
Hastings District Council’s social and cultural development committee chairman Malcolm Dixon said the refuge provided help to people at a very stressful time.
“Being able to access this assistance can make all the difference to the futures of women and children. As a former
Principal, I have seen the damage some children suffer and, on the other side of the coin, the difference that intervention by the very special people who run these types of services can make.
“It is often said that society can be measured by the way in which it treats its most vulnerable members. In assisting the refuge in this way, our society is saying it will help our most in need to make positive changes in their lives.”
8 January 2018
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