With Government funding for community earthquake recovery drying up, and charities and trusts stretched financially in the current climate, Keith Jacques of Knowledge to Grow is being forced to charge this year for his Dealing to Stress seminars.
The only alternative is to pull the popular courses, which have been designed to help with post-quake trauma and its ongoing effects.
For the last two years, the programmes have been funded from the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) earthquake recovery coffers, with Wellbeing North Canterbury helping Mr Jacques to secure that support. In 2011, he says, the money was willingly tendered. Last year, a first application for funding was turned down and it was only after an extensive new proposal and the support of former Waimakariri MP Clayton Cosgrove that the ministry reconsidered.
''We had to jump through so many hoops last year to secure financing for the programmes that I was tempted to cut my hair - if I had any - to make myself look like a performing poodle,'' he said.
This year, he's had to resort to charging for the courses.
''Even in 2011, the bureaucratic attitude was like 'it's been 18 months since the Kaiapoi quake - everything's okay now after 18 months, isn't it?' There seems to be no understanding that there are still so many people in real need of the tools - the awareness, skills and tactics - to deal successfully with their stress and rebuild a great attitude.''
Mr Jacques comes from a background of helping people deal with life's pressures. He worked for 15 years as a probation officer, and been writing and facilitating anti-violence and positive change courses for 17 years. As well as the Dealing to Stress initiative in Kaiapoi, he manages 15 courses a year around the country for the 17 to 25-year-olds participating in the joint WINZ and NZ military Limited Service Volunteer programme.
The Dealing with Stress courses were initially developed to help men deal with post-quake pressures without plunging into depression or taking things out on their families. They were well attended, and the feedback and results were such that he ran them last year for both men and women.
''I was still getting calls at the end of last year when the MSD funding had run out. They were brilliantly supported by Wellbeing, important social groups like the Rangiora Baptist Church and the council community team, and even some of the region's medical practitioners had started referring clilents. These are the people and organisations on the ground having to deal with the ramifications of high stress levels in our community.''
With the funding hunt now just too hard in 2013 - but demand still high for the service - he has trimmed out as much cost as possible to make sure he can continue to deliver the programme, while retaining collateral such as work books and handouts. Now, each course throughout the year will consist of six, two-hour sessions at a cost of $150 per client, starting on Wednesday, January 23.
To book a place in the Dealing to Stress programme, you can call or text Mr Jacques on 027 715 7954, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- © Fairfax NZ News