Money big boost for Youthline

ASHLEIGH STEWART
Last updated 05:00 26/05/2014

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More calls for help from Christchurch's most vulnerable young people will now be answered.

Youthline Central South Island has welcomed a $50,000 cash injection from the Canterbury Community Trust.

Youthline receives about 54,000 calls from 18,000 people a year to its national helpline.

Last year, it reported only being able to answer 65 per cent of the calls.

The money will go towards paying salaries and operating costs, but will also help establish a new volunteer co-ordinator role, to oversee the 35 volunteers working at the organisation.

Centre manager Tina Mackie said the funding would help more calls be answered nationally, as calls to the helpline were diverted around the country.

Mackie said mental health was the primary area of concern for its callers.

"I suspect this would top the list wherever people are, but young people in Christchurch's issues have become a lot more complex," she said.

Older people were often able to determine the source of their stress, be that insurance or roadworks or Earthquake Commission issues.

The youth found it harder to work out why they were unhappy.

"Young people know they're stressed and sometimes it's hard to pinpoint why," Mackie said. Youthline was among 75 successful applicants to the trust's latest round of Young People sector funding.

The applications totalled $4.5 million, where the trust had a $1.5m budget.

This forced some "very difficult decisions" around who would receive funding, trust chief executive Louise Edwards said.

Those dealing with "the more crisis end of the spectrum" were prioritised.

Canterbury youth were still dealing with the aftermath of the earthquakes.

She said there had been a spike in demand for youth mental services.

The city now had 110 youth workers in schools in Christchurch, 35 more than in 2013.

A lack of housing had meant reports of an increase in "street kids".

"It's fair to say demand exceeded supply," Edwards said.

Other successful applicants included the 180 Degrees Trust, Youth Alive Trust, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Christchurch and the Canterbury Youth Workers Collective.

Collective co-ordinator John Harrington said youth workers and organisations had struggled to support greater numbers of young people.

Harrington said one of the biggest issues for youth was a lack of "places and spaces for them to hang out".

He worried young people would leave Christchurch as a result.

The collective received $20,000, which would be allocated to administration costs.

The Canterbury Community Trust distributes the income from its $500m investment portfolio to more than 1200 community organisations in Canterbury, Nelson, Marlborough and the Chatham Islands. It divides the funding between nine different sectors.

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