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Birthright Christchurch celebrates 50 years

Birthright Christchurch celebrates 50 years supporting single parents

This week Birthright Christchurch celebrates 50 years of supporting single parents to raise their children.

The city’s branch of this national organisation was established on 18 October 1963, initially to support single mothers where the father was unable to remain in the family due to the effects of their war experiences, says Birthright Christchurch manager Noeline Allan.

“In those days all our staff were volunteers and Birthright was set up and supported by local service club JCs.”

Birthright Christchurch now helps over 170 local families, supporting 680 adults and children with a range of services.

“Social changes have resulted in many more single parent families with 15% of Christchurch children growing up in a single parent household. These parents need to be supported to raise their children and that’s where Birthright helps them,” says Noeline.

With a paid staff of four along with volunteers, Birthright provides home visits, house hold goods and resources, targeted programmes for parents and children, and a series of family events, activities and camps throughout the year and is completely funded by charitable support.

One of Birthright’s clients, a single parent with three young children, says that the support of the organisation helped her when she was feeling alone and isolated after the breakup of her 13 year relationship.

“Birthright has been a huge part of sustaining me on my journey as a single Mum. I am so grateful for their assistance, encouragement and inspiration. It has been life changing for both my children and myself!”

The first Birthright in Hastings was established by lawyer Peter Gifford and the Hastings Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1955 to address the need for an voluntary organisation whose emphasis was on the welfare of children of one parent families in the community.

“After much studying of Roget’s Thesaurus, Mr Gifford came up with the name Birthright, claiming that every child is entitled to a birthright,” says Noeline.

Birthright will be celebrating 50 years of service this Friday (18 October) from 4.30pm until 6.30pm at the Horticultural Hall with locals MPs and government politicians. Key note speaker will be Pip Ballard, daughter of Peter Gifford, and President of Birthright New Zealand.

The function will be attended by current and past Birthright volunteers, clients, staff and the governance team. For more information about Birthright Christchurch visit www.birthrightchch.org.nz.

ENDS

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