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Leslie Centre Celebrates Century of Caring for Children

Media Release
September 26, 2011

Leslie Centre Celebrates Century of Caring for Children

An Auckland centre that began its life as an orphanage is celebrating 100 years of caring for children and families.

The Presbyterian-run Leslie Centre, which was established in Meadowbank in 1911 thanks to a substantial bequest from Auckland baker James Leslie, will celebrate the milestone at an event on September 30.

Now based in Mt Roskill, the centre that bears James Leslie’s name has long since given away providing institutionalized care for children.

Leslie Centre service manager, Diane Jefferson said that when the orphanage opened, there was very little social welfare assistance as we know it today. “Families who fell on hard times relied on the charitable goodwill of others, who saw it as their duty to care for those less fortunate than themselves,” she says.

Institutionalized care remained the pattern for many years, but by the 1970s, family centres began to replace residential care for children. Through the 1980s the Leslie Family Centre gained an excellent reputation for helping parents work through their children’s behavioral difficulties, especially through its sleep programme and toilet training advice.

The Leslie Centre moved to Greenlane in 1990, where it focused on family counselling and working with children who had behavioral issues or had suffered sexual abuse.

Then, in 2002, it moved to Mt Roskill to be closer to the community it served. There it specialized in early intervention with ‘at risk’ families, helping break down patterns of poverty, social alienation and violence.

In 2006 Presbyterian Support created a national brand for its family and children’s services -Family Works. Today, Family Works at the Leslie Centre provides counselling, social work and programmes that directly relate to children and young people. It also hosts a team of social workers who work directly with five local primary schools and one high school.

“Our staff often work with families in their own homes and typically consider wider issues such as unemployment, addiction and mental health. It’s really about finding the best way to support families as they overcome a variety of challenges,” says Ms Jefferson.

New, purpose-designed premises were opened in Mt Roskill this year and include private counselling rooms, work space for group programmes, and a playroom for therapy with children.

After a century of caring for children and families, the Leslie Centre continues to be a professional, accountable and client-centered agency which is very much a part of its local community, and still has a keen heart for the wellbeing of children.

For more information on Family Works services and the Leslie Centre see www.familyworksnorthern.org.nz


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