Loans to help victims of family violence
Aviva, formerly the Christchurch Women's Refuge, will soon offer small loans to families who have been affected by family violence.
The no-interest loans, of up to $2000, will be offered to individuals and families who are on low incomes and unable to access mainstream financial services.
Aviva chief executive Nicola Woodward said financial hardship could escalate the risk of existing violence.
"We believe that access to safe, fair and affordable credit will help to reduce this risk and so create space and incentives for families to become hopeful," she said.
"When families are excluded financially, as those living on low incomes so often are, it can be hard to envisage an alternative healthy future, free from violence."
Women leaving violent relationships often experienced a loss in finances and possessions, Woodward said.
"For many, particularly women with children, being able to access the finances needed to help set up a new home will make a real difference."
The loan scheme, which Aviva has organised in partnership with the Good Shepherd New Zealand Trust, will initially be run as a 12 month pilot programme.
Woodward hoped to have the programme launched by early spring and to help about 60 families during the year-long pilot.
Aviva will manage the service and support clients to assess their financial needs and eligibility for a loan.
Eligibility criteria are still being developed by Aviva, but Woodward said it would include the applicant's ability to pay back the loan.
Loans will be offered for essential household goods or to meet health and education needs. They will not be available to repay existing debt or general living expenses, such as power bills.
Capital for the loans will be provided by banks that have agreed to support the scheme
The families would also be offered support and advice, Woodward said.