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Kids’ Free Counselling Phoneline To Close

20 May 2004
News release

Kids’ Free Counselling Phoneline To Close

New Zealand’s only free, professional counselling phoneline for children, What’s Up, will close at the end of May.

The Kids Help Foundation Trust, which runs the service, said today it had been unable to find new sponsors to keep the phonelines going.

Trust executive director Grant Taylor said that, since the service announced in March it was facing closure, it had received a lot of enthusiastic support for its work but no substantial financial backing.

“As a result, we’re going to run out of money at the end of May so will have to shut down. This is a tragedy for New Zealand youth but we have run out of options. There is no choice left but to close.”

Staffed by 15 paid, professionally trained and supervised counsellors, What’s Up’s confidential lines are open noon to midnight, seven days a week. On average, the service handles 313 calls every day from Kiwi kids aged 5 to 18.

The service costs more than $3/4 million a year to run and recently lost two of its four major corporate sponsors.

The other two founding sponsors – Griffin’s and Kellogg’s – continued their support and Taylor said the Trust was very grateful for that.

“Without the steadfast commitment of Griffin’s and Kellogg’s, we wouldn’t have been able to carry on for this long,” Taylor said.

He said What’s Up fulfilled an important need in New Zealand’s youth services.

“It fills many gaps in what is currently available for children and young people. Just one example is how we provide a consistent supportive relationship for children in state care while they move from one placement to another to another.

“Their What’s Up Counsellor remains constant while their case workers, geographical location, school, peer-group and caregivers change repeatedly.”

Taylor said if the Trust could find just $70,000, it could keep going while it negotiated with a potential major new sponsor. However, that seemed unlikely.

If anyone can help, contact the What’s Up office on 09 630 4144 or email admin@whatsup.co.nz


- ends -


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