PRESS RELEASE 26 November 2014
Graffiti Art, Nurse Maude, Nuns from the 19th Century, and Benjamin Mountfort
The oldest temporary structure in Christchurch has just been acquired by Christchurch charity Home &
The ‘Our House’ project is a one-of-a-kind coming together of Heritage and Social Services, the likes of which has never been seen before. Tomorrow we launch our campaign to raise the 2.9 million dollars needed to ensure this
special building designed by Benjamin Mountfort and his son Cyril Mountfort is restored and made fit for Home & Family’s purposes. Local Graffiti artist Wongi Wilson is creating a piece of street art to celebrate and commemorate this amazing project. The wall that will feature his work is on the corner of St. Asaph and Manchester Streets.
Home & Family will use the restored building to operate its busy counselling services, where around 50% of their clients are children, some as young as 3 years old. This complements the second stream of their essential service, a parenting programme operating out of Barrington. This grade 1, category 1 heritage building still stands proud on the corner of St. Asaph and Barbadoes Streets, having come through the earthquakes shaken but not devastated or
demolished as so many of our other heritage buildings have been.
‘Our House’ was originally owned by the Sisters of the Community of the Sacred Name, the only Anglican female order in New Zealand, dating back to 1893 and location of Nurse Maude’s first dispensary and the first District Nursing Office in New Zealand.
Home & Family can trace its roots back to 1898 when it was established as the Society for the Protection of Women and Children. The Society successfully bid to include the act of incest in the Crimes Act in 1900, campaigned for the age of consent to be raised from 14 to 16, and in 1940 the Society made efforts to improve State maternity services and the inclusion of women in the workforce. These actions brought about significant social change and undoubtedly altered today’s society for the better. This family focused, forward thinking still drives Home & Family
Val Carter, Executive Director of Home & Family, believes that the synergy between Home & Family, the Sisters’ work at the Convent, and the building itself makes for an exciting convergence within Christchurch’s social history. “This opportunity to acquire and restore a building so that we have a new, permanent home is too good to be missed. This hidden gem of a place has had a proud tradition of helping Cantabrians, as has Home & Family. We are delighted to be able to continue our work in this historic context.”
Who is Home and Family
Home & Family is an independent, Christchurch based incorporated society that works with children, adults
and families facing barriers to positive outcomes in their lives. Home & Family provide two streams of
service: a counselling service and a residential parenting programme.
Home & Family traces its roots back to Christchurch in 1898 when it was established as the Society for the Protection of Women and Children. The Society was authorised to collect and disburse maintenance money to wives and children separated from their husbands and fathers. The Society successfully bid to include the act of incest in the Crimes Act in 1900, campaigned for the age of consent to be raised from 14 to 16, and in 1940 the Society made efforts to improve State maternity services and the inclusion of women in the workforce.
These actions brought about significant social change and undoubtedly altered today’s society for the better. This family focused, forward thinking still drives Home & Family today.
Over 100 years later, Home & Family builds safe and secure families by providing counselling and parenting programmes and assessments to families and children. This support continues for as long as the family needs it, with contact often continuing for years after families have moved on from directly accessing Home & Family’s services.
The positive effects created by working with the whole family unit to empower healthy, resilient and safe families have benefits for the entire community. It provides an opportunity for inter-generational change to occur with families being able to create positive new cultures, behaviours and relationships. These results are seen not only in the lifetime of one generation, but throughout the lifeline of the entire family.
Home & Family’s vision: All children will live in homes with whānau/family who cherish them, keep them safe and nurture their potential.
Counselling – Pathway to Healing
Home & Family has seven counsellors on staff working with children, young people, couples and families. It is one of very few agencies that offers counselling to children, in fact, almost fifty per cent of the counselling work that Home & Family undertake is with children. Children as young as three years old are working with Home & Family counsellors, using play therapy.
In recent years Home & Family has been seeing an increased number of children for counselling. This is significant as following a major traumatic event there is often a two to three year lapse before post-traumatic stress reaches its peak.
Counsellors work to strengthen resilience, self-esteem, and relationships, and work through issues including anger, depression, anxiety, grief, loss and trauma. Counsellors also work with those that have been a witness to or a victim of domestic violence, physical and sexual abuse.
Home & Family sees amazing transformations in the lives of those they counsel. They are able to move on from the challenges of their current situations and grow and thrive.
Parenting – Putting Children First
The residential parenting programme provides 24-hour supervised accommodation for parents and their
children. This service focuses on situations where out of home placements for the children are being
considered. Parents take part in supervised life-skills training to learn strategies for safe and nurturing
parenting of children. During this time the entire family unit also has access to the counselling service.
‘The House’ in Barrington provides a secure environment for mothers and their children. This programme gives Home & Family the opportunity to see what would be the best for the family as a whole with the welfare of children as the priority in all decision making. ‘The Flats’ are located on an adjacent property to ‘The House’. These provide a supportive environment for a family to test the waters of living independently, while still within access
of Home & Family’s social workers and counsellors. Research confirms that children are better off in the care of their own family. Home & Family are committed to keeping children with their families, while empowering the parents with the tools and confidence to parent successfully
Home & Family Service User stories
Terangi’s story – Terangi had come to the attention of the authorities in an earlier, violent relationship. As a result her children were moved into impermanent care. Pregnant and very keen to make sure she didn’t have the same outcome this time, Terangi worked very, very hard to turn her life around. With the support of Home & Family there is now no state involvement with her, her partner and their children.
‘Home & Family has given us so much. After the six weeks had been and gone, and the six months had been and gone, they’ve given us not just their time, but their knowledge and their care. My culture was honoured from the time I walked into this house. I have learned heaps of tools that I can use with my parenting. I think about the girls, how far we’ve come along. At the end of the day, I’m here for my daughters, my daughters come first. It’s gone from them thinking about uplifting Terangimarie, to then thinking no, she’s at Home & Family with Huia, to then reducing the custody to a support order, and now being able to wipe the support order and give me back my full custody. I can say I did it, even though all the hurdles were stuck in my family’s way. We did it, we did it together as a family unit, with the assistance of Home & Family. If it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t have what we’ve got now.’
Rennae’s story – Rennae came from a background of extreme poverty and at 14 found herself pregnant and living on the streets. Despite wanting to care for her baby Cassandra, Rennae was suffering from severe post-natal depression and it didn’t work out. When Cassandra was two years old Rennae had the opportunity to have her in her care. She was referred to Home & Family and has been part of their Residential Parenting programme for nine months.
‘I’ve never really had a family like this. They are amazing. They have been there with me through the hard times. Since I’ve been here I’ve changed. Parenting isn’t easy. I’ve learned a lot of skills. I’ve learned the basics about looking after Cassandra – hygiene, learning to be calm and patient, playing and taking turns, and learning to show my love for her in an appropriate way. With the help of Home & Family staff, she’s come a long way. There’s no such thing as perfect, but I want the best for Cassandra. I want her to be happy, in a safe, calm environment, just be a normal family. If I could get to the point where I could parent outside of Home & Family I would feel like a person that won a million dollars, honestly, words can’t explain it. I’d be the happiest person on the earth.’