Record levels of need among children

Last updated 05:00 01/09/2012
trina kiddie
Trina Kiddie and her daughter Storm who have been involved with Cholomondeley Children's Charity for the last four years.

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A Canterbury children's charity is seeing "record levels" of need since the earthquakes, and referrals for children from wealthier suburbs are on the rise.

Cholmondeley has seen an increase in the number of children from affluent suburbs using the charity's services.

General manager Shane Murdoch said Cholmondeley typically dealt with children from lower socioeconomic suburbs but was now seeing families from places such as Merivale and Avonhead.

"Obviously a lot of people living in eastern suburbs have had to move, so we're seeing more families from different suburbs.

"There's a lot of depopulation on the east and some families left for a while but came back to Christchurch, and some have left permanently, but there's definitely new need too."

Murdoch said about 200 children had stayed at Cholmondeley House this year.

"We usually see about 200 to 300 children a year, so to have already hit 200 is huge for us," he said.

Families were "increasingly stressed" since the quakes, and anxiety and insecurity were "everyday problems" for children.

"We were unusually quiet for parts of last year and I think families just hunkered down, and even though Cholmondeley is sometimes associated with deprivation, that's not how it is," he said.

Of the children the charity had worked with this year, about 50 had moved house more than three times since the quakes, he said.

Cholmondeley's Governors Bay home was demolished after suffering damage in the February 2011 quake.

The charity had been working from Living Springs at Governors Bay since the quake, but plans for a new building were under way and it was hoped construction would start next year, Murdoch said.

Solo parent Trina Kiddie said her 13-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son had been using Cholmondeley's services for the past four years.

"The earthquakes added a lot of problems," she said. "It triggered some behavioural issues in Storm [her daughter] and both of them were just generally really anxious and it was definitely a tough time," she said.

Kiddie said the charity had offered support, advice and "some time out".

"The kids always come back refreshed and it makes a huge difference. The earthquakes triggered anxiety in me too, so having Cholmondeley there was just incredible," she said.

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