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Increasing vulnerability in Canterbury’s children

Increasing vulnerability in Canterbury’s children as Cholmondeley demand grows.

As Children’s Day approaches, statistics from Christchurch’s Cholmondeley Children’s Centre show that demand for its services has grown by 48% in the past three years.

Children’s Day is celebrated on 4 March. Cholmondeley’s chief executive Arron Perriam says that the Children’s Day philosophy of ‘putting our tamariki first’ is an essential part of how Cholmondeley treats children every day, but that there is growing pressure on the service.

“Cholmondeley celebrates the uniqueness and richness of each child, and takes them from being statistics of social deprivation into a child centred environment where their potential, hope and promise can develop,” he says.

“Sadly, we continue to see a steady increase in demand for our accommodation, education and social work services, and while we always hold places for emergency referrals, we have been unable to accept any non-critical referrals while we address the backlog from the Christmas period.”

During the Christmas holiday period, the centre had 45 first-time referrals, in addition to the 15-18 children who return every week for respite care visits.

“The increased demand for Cholmondeley’s services from first time users, and the growing complexity of behavioural issues in these children, demonstrates that in the greater Canterbury area there is an increase in the vulnerability and emergency needs of children in our communities,” Arron says.

Arron says that Cholmondeley’s child centred and family focused model responds well to the needs of children and families.

“We cater for children and their families right across the spectrum of vulnerability. Through our practice, we are often able to support families and whanau to resolve difficulties before it reaches the level where a statutory response is required.”

While the statistics are alarming, Arron says it is essential that children are not treated simply as numbers in a battle for resources.

“Cholmondeley believes children should be viewed from a strengths perspective. Each of them is a little gem with a special diamond inside, and through our work, we help that diamond to shine,” he says.

“Cholmondeley’s partnerships with the Canterbury community are a key part in our ability to effectively respond to this growing need,” says Arron.

“It’s the support from right across the community, from our motivated volunteers to those caring corporates, that makes a meaningful difference in the lives of Canterbury’s children.”

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