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Huge demand for services prompts ‘Little Gems’ appeal

Huge demand for Cholmondeley’s children’s services prompts ‘Little Gems’ appeal

Cholmondeley Children’s Centre is experiencing an unprecedented demand for its care and education services in Canterbury, prompting the Centre to hold its first ever Little Gems Awareness Month in May to support local children and their whānau who are under pressure or in crisis.

Since 2010, Cholmondeley has seen a steady rise in families accessing its services, with a 150% increase in the number of children in its care. In 2011, 194 children visited Cholmondeley. This rose to an average of 350 children per year from 2013-2015, and in 2017, increased to 519 children.

The Little Gems Awareness Month will be launched with a fun evening of Demin, Diamonds and Dancing on Saturday 4 May, featuring performances by talented young people, as well as a special video presentation from the children at Cholmondeley. Jason Gunn will MC the event, which will also include a diamond tree featuring mystery prizes – including real diamonds. Tickets are available to purchase at littlegems.org.nz. Businesses and schools are encouraged to run their own fundraisers during May, with ideas and a toolkit available online, or people can donate to the street appeal on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 May.

Chief Executive Arron Perriam says that ongoing support from the community is vital to continue to meet such a high level of need. “For the past year, our services have been in very high demand and we have only been able to take on limited new emergency referrals. Cholmondeley is 80 percent community-funded, so the 500-plus local children we work with each year rely on the generosity of local individuals and businesses.

“The aim of our Little Gems awareness month is to encourage more businesses, schools and families to get behind Canterbury’s tamariki and make a difference by supporting Cholmondeley. As a community, we need to come together to ensure that every Canterbury child has the opportunity to express their inner sparkle.”

The increased need for Cholmondeley’s care services is the result of ongoing stressors facing families, as well as continued effects from Canterbury’s earthquakes. Perriam explains that common challenges for families can include bereavement, financial difficulties, displacement from their home, mental or physical illness and family violence.

“As long as these sorts of stressors for families exist, Cholmondeley will remain an essential care service for the Canterbury community. We’ve been operating since 1925 to support families in times of genuine stress and crisis, and the need now remains stronger than ever,” he says.

In order to create maximum impact within its resources, Cholmondeley focuses on providing regular, ongoing respite care to families with children aged 3 -12 years. While family challenges are being resolved at home, Cholmondeley’s registered teachers, social workers and childcare practitioners support children at Cholmondeley’s base in Governor’s Bay. The Centre offers a one-of-a-kind Adventure Based Learning programme, which focuses on building children’s self-confidence, social skills and resilience through outdoor experiences, including kayaking, nature walks, high-ropes courses and swimming.

“All of our teams and programmes collectively provide a healing community and safe haven for children,” Perriam says.

- ends –

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