Many New Zealand children have been exposed to traumatic events. What differs for the children of Christchurch is the ongoing and unpredictable nature of the earthquakes over the past 5 years. Exposure to repetitive or significant traumatic experiences can leave children suspended in a state of fearful expectation. This in turn can compromise their cognitive, social and emotional development and ability to problem solve.
At Home & Family we provide critical interventions for children and families affected by trauma, grief, violence and abuse. Originally established as The Society for the Protection of Women and Children, we have been around for over 100 years. However since the Canterbury earthquakes, our work has increased by nearly 400%. Home & Family’s work is not only unique but crucial; over half of the children we work with have experienced family violence or other forms of abuse. Other common reasons for referral among children are anxiety, anger and grief.
Cheryl Tóvizi has witnessed first-hand the effects of trauma on a very young child and how Home & Family played a vital part in helping him to move forward. The following are her own words:
“The effect of trauma experienced by children as young as three years old should neither be ignored or underestimated. In the midst of a storm of earthquakes, my then-3 year old grandson also lost his mother; she was murdered by an ex-partner.
It became unbearable seeing the impact taking its toll on this precious little boy, from not only the horrific loss of his mother, but also the constant fear of being harmed or losing others, due to the ongoing violent shaking of our home. He needed help and Home and Family were our life line. My grandson was able to access the urgent counselling he so desperately needed in the form of Child Play Therapy. He was able to express himself in a form that was interpreted by his counsellor. With the amazing support from the Home and Family service our family was enabled to jointly work together to help him through the darkness.
The impact of trauma cannot be ‘fixed’ within the limitation of a set 6-weeks of sessions. It was essential that he was given the time he needed to be able to develop coping strategies to deal with the trauma that is still within him today. The counselling my grandson received has had a long lasting and positive effect, enabling him to thrive, and his future is now brighter because of it.
The recent Kaikoura earthquakes only served to re-trigger not only my grandson but also the hundreds of small children who live with the fear of earthquakes destroying their home and taking their family. Having timely access to child counselling services is essential to the wellbeing and the future of the children who continue to suffer trauma, both man-made and that of mother nature.
They have created this culture at Home & Family, that feels like when you walk in the door you’re wrapped in a lovely warm blanket. You’re in a safe place with people who truly, truly care. We all need to step up and do what we can by supporting services like theirs to provide the help our children so desperately need.”
Cheryl’s grandson is just one example of the hundreds of children Home & Family work with every year. When it comes to trauma there is no such thing as a ‘quick fix’. As a charity, we are committed to early intervention and staying with children and families for as long as they need. Essentially, supporting children to overcome complex difficulties can give them the same life chances as many of their peers.
However, Home & Family needs your help to continue helping the children of Canterbury. By making a regular or one-off donation, you can help to make a huge and positive difference to young people who have not had the start in life that all children deserve.
Here’s what some of the charity’s supporters have to say about why they give:
“The work that Home & Family do is not just painting over the issues, it’s really helping to fix them.” – Mark Quinn
“Home & Family are a huge part of what makes Christchurch special.” – Kate & Lei’ataua Limola
“As a social worker, I always knew that when I sent someone to Home & Family, they were in safe hands for as long as it was going to take.” – Rebecca Parnham
“The ethics and vision of Home & Family fit perfectly with what my wife and I hold dearest to heart – being local and working with children means it ticks all the boxes for us.” – Nigel Paterson