Women and children sleeping on floors with nothing are being helped by the Rotary Club of Whangarei City through Women's Refuge.
It is stepping in to help – collecting household goods and raising awareness.
The Rotarians are supporting the Tryphina House Whangarei Women's and Te Puna o te Aroha Maori Women's Refuges.
The two organisations differ slightly in philosophy but work together and often share resources.
Both have seen a huge increase in demand.
Clients of Te Puna o te Aroha have doubled in the past year, with the refuge getting 300 phone calls a month on average.
Tryphina House has had three times the number of clients in the past financial year compared with the 12 months before, team leader Jodie Findlay-Harris says.
The refuges need goods for four safe houses and for women who move away from violent partners.
"We have had three women in as many weeks all with children under five sleeping on the floor with their children," Jodie says.
"They have no beds, no blankets, no food in the cupboard, no fridge; they are literally just sleeping on the floor with nothing."
Jodie says women's refuge workers have been perceived as man-haters who want to break up families but nothing could be further from the truth.
"We're about keeping women and children safe.
"We encourage and support them to stay where it's safe," she says.
"The women love their partners and sons, they just don't love the violence."
Tryphina House works with women experiencing domestic violence to ensure they have a safety and support plan.
It can also support family members and refer on to relationship counselling, budgeting or Work and Income, taking a more holistic approach to the pressures on families.
Te Puna o te Aroha Maori Women's Refuge works directly with men to address underlying causes of family violence, manager Carla Klink says.
"For us, being Maori, we can't work in isolation with the woman."
Whangarei City Rotary secretary David Martin is astounded by how great the need is.
"I am amazed at the demand, in a small town like this that there's such an undercurrent of family violence."
The club is happy to help the "unsung heroines", who often have to remain behind the scenes for safety reasons, he says. President Kevan Summerlee says Rotary can be perceived as a group of "white, middle-class ageing men" and this is a good opportunity to get more involved in the community.
People with donations can call David on 459-1011 to arrange pick-up or small items can be dropped off at the Citizens Advice Bureau on Bank St.
Call 0800 REFUGE (0800-733-843) at any time if you need their help.
CAN YOU HELP?
Wish-list for Tryphina House Whangarei Women's Refuge and Te Puna o te Aroha Maori Women's Refuge:
Appliances like fridges, washing machines and vacuum cleaners Pots, pans and cooking things Cutlery Small appliances like toasters, jugs, microwaves Bed linen, towels, pillows, furniture especially double beds and dining tables Books for women to read.
Children's games and activities (such as arts and crafts).
Good quality clothing for women, children and especially boys Lawnmowers, no cuddly toys – because they are germ carriers.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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