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Haven For Separated Dads In Need

15 July 2004

Haven For Separated Dads In Need

A dedicated house for fathers in the midst of separation, and their children is being recognised for the much-needed service it is providing.

The South Auckland based emergency support four-bedroom house, which can cater for a maximum of 12, was opened in December 2002 and is thought to be the only such dedicated facility in New Zealand.

Separated Fathers Support Trust House coordinator Warren Heap says that the house specifically caters for children as well as fathers and gives families a chance to get away from often very stressful environments.

"At the very least we offer people meals and a place to sleep. Children often say “it’s good being here Dad as there are no arguments”. In a stressful situation accommodation can be just one of the many issues being faced.

“A major factor underlining the need for such a ‘retreat’ house is the opportunity it presents in enabling a father to retain his children or have more meaningful ongoing contact with them. It provides him with an address, phone contact and may help him maintain his job. It certainly provides him with time and space to re establish his life and focus on other important issues he is faced with at this difficult time,” said Mr Heap.

In addition to the House residents’ monetary contribution, the Separated Fathers Support Trust is reliant on donations and fundraising. A SKYCITY Auckland Community Trust grant of $5000 has assisted with operational costs for the house.

"We try to keep the costs down as fathers are often responsible for mortgages and so on. The maximum stay at the house is four months, with most fathers finding their feet and moving on after about two months. We are really grateful to organisations like the SKYCITY Auckland Community Trust for helping us make this service accessible during this time of need.”

The house has catered for 58 people including 29 children to date with the majority of the house residents being Maori or Polynesian. Food, board, bedding etc costs $120 per week per adult and $5 per night for children.

Mr Heap said that in the last 18 months the House has gained recognition and is receiving referrals from the Police, WINZ, Victim Support, The Salvation Army and Citizens Advice Bureau.

“They have acknowledged that the service we provide is valuable and goes someway to balancing the situation as generally there is a lack of resources for this group of people.

"We have even had calls from as far away as Gisborne. Recently we were contacted by an organization in Australia wanting to get information about setting up something similar. They said they couldn't find anything like it Australia, England, America or Canada.

“Given the demand we are seeing would like to establish another facility in Auckland if we could raise the necessary funds,” said Mr Heap.

The SKYCITY Auckland Community Trust was voluntarily established in 1996, as part of SKYCITY Auckland’s casino licence application process, to provide funds for community and charitable purposes.

The Trust announced the successful list of applicants in its ninth funding round last month where $3 million dollars has been allocated to 113 recipients from a wide range of community and charitable organisations. The SKYCITY Auckland Community Trust has, to date, distributed almost $15 million in grants for community and charitable purposes.

Funds available for distribution are 2.5% of the net annual profit from SKYCITY Auckland or a minimum of $500,000 per annum.

ENDS

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