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Children left out in the cold, days before Christm

“At risk” families and children left out in the cold, days before Christmas

Hundreds of at risk Christchurch children and their families look likely to lose an essential lifeline in the next day or so because of a lack of funding.

One day after a massive Government budget surplus was announced, the Family Help Trust says today that the financial crisis affecting their organisation means they will have to close their doors in the next couple of days, unless funding is forthcoming.

The huge tragedy of this situation is the Trust has been awarded substantial funding in March next year, but it is the period between now and then for which it is in dire need of money.

Trust Chairman, Sally Thompson says, “This is one of the hardest times of the year for our 150 “high risk” children and their families who have few options for assistance. And we are still getting referrals from people who need our help. We have been operating on the smell of an oily rang for the last two years. Now, the rag is fast becoming fumeless and we are concerned that it’s the children who need this type of support who will lose out the most.”

One local man who says he owes everything to the Family Help Trust doesn’t know what he will do if the trust closes. Aaron has spent the last 12 years in prison and credits staying away from a life of crime and drugs to FHT.

“I don’t want to go back and do crime, the Trust has given me new skills, a belief in myself and as a result my little boy has a father at home and my wife has a husband beside her. I don’t want a handout and that’s not what the Trust is about. My caseworker gives me moral support, advice and is there to get me and my family through. I don’t know what we will do without her.”

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Sally Thompson says everyone has been working tirelessly through the year and particularly in the last few weeks to try and avert this tragedy but things are looking even more grim now and a decision will be made in the next 24-48 hours. She says unless funding is found, they will have no option but to close – a tragedy for one of the few support agencies that offers early intervention for children and families, and for the last 12 years has effectively acted as a barrier at the top of the cliff and not the ambulance at the bottom

Additional facts:

Family Help Trust has seen around 415 families and 1,000 children in the last 12 years. The Central Govt. funding is estimated to be about 2% of total monies needed over the last 12 years and none over the last 2 years. Non-intervention at an early stage costs 19 times more than effective early intervention, as carried out by the Family Help Trust (Source: 1992 Michigan Study) and that's just the financial cost - the social costs are enormous, and what price can you put on the life of a child and a family?

Family Help Trust operates with a team of 6 social workers and 3 support staff, whose jobs are also under threat.

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