Support group's funds drying up

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 12:00 23/11/2012

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Manawatu's Abuse and Rape Crisis support group is facing a crisis of its own.

This month marks the 30th birthday of the branch of the organisation. It also marks what manager Ann Kent believes is the first time it has had to send letters to the community asking for donations.

The organisation gets just under half its funding from the Social Development Ministry - a total of $127,000 - and must raise another $130,000 itself.

However, under the ministry's Investing in Services for Outcomes programme, social services contracts are to be reviewed, leaving the support group's future uncertain.

"We're not sure what's going to happen for us in the future because we don't have guaranteed funding," Ms Kent said.

"So to keep services going, we need community support."

Ms Kent said counselling services were cut from 60 hours to 40 hours on July 1, but six hours had been regained thanks to a community grant.

The organisation had also essentially lost a staff member because it had been unable to afford to replace one community education officer, so staff numbers were down to six part-timers.

But even with those costs saved, it still needed to raise a further $25,000 this financial year, she said.

Ms Kent said the number of victims helped increased by 10 to 15 per cent each year, but part of that was because more people were coming forward, as most of the cases they dealt with were historical.

"We're not saying the level of sexual attacks has increased, but it hasn't decreased either."

The organisation's counselling and support services saw about 80 people a month.

During the course of the year, 200 of those would be new clients, she said.

The programme for victims of child sexual abuse worked with about 30 children and their caregivers, and the educational programme, which is delivered in high schools, reached about 500 teens a year.

The education programme would definitely be cut if it did not get community support, because it received no other funding, she said.

"The work we do, we know it makes a difference. There's not a single day I don't want to come into work because what survivors achieve is amazing and when we deliver that [educational] programme, the change you see are amazing. We know it creates a shift in how they [teens] think."

One thousand letters are expected to be delivered to businesses and individuals throughout Palmerston North next week.

Anyone who wants to help the organisation can visit its website, arcsmanawatu.org.nz, or call (06) 356 5868. There are other ways to help that are not financial.

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- Manawatu Standard

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