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Turning houses into homes

Turning houses into homes

Image of a bed with gifts on it

Kerryn Thrupp, founder of Auckland based charity of Woven Earth was herself a family violence victim and has walked the journey of rebuilding her life with her two young children. When she approached Victim Support, Auckland Area Manager Wilson Irons immediately saw the potential of a collaborative relationship.

“We know from the stats that to break away from family violence is really difficult,” says Wilson.

“Women in this situation will often have little control over the couple’s finances and accounts or are in a position with where they have young kids and they’re not working. To break the cycle, we need to help them get a new start.”

Creating a new home environment where family violence survivors can feel safe and begin to heal is critical in breaking the cycle, yet, this can be undermined if they are overburdened with financial stress.

“Victims of family violence tend to get into debt. If you are going to leave your partner, if you are going to leave everything behind, you probably haven’t got the financial backing to go out and buy beds and everything else and start all over again,” says Wilson.

Sara Hopoate, Family Harm Coordinator in Victim Support’s Auckland/Waitemata region has been involved with this programme from the outset. Woven Earth provide all the essential items such as beds, furniture and linen along with any items of décor needed to make the new home liveable, but in fleeing family violence with a parent, children have their whole world tipped upside down.

"While it is impossible to replace a lot of what is left behind, care is taken to ensure their needs are met with bikes, toys and sporting equipment. Woven Earth and the Auckland Victim Support Team strive together to fulfill a commitment to help these fleeing victims and their children feel supported, empowered, and confident in their new fresh start," says Sara.

She and Wilson have worked closely with Woven Earth and Family Harm Police Sergeants and others to form relationships and networks with organisations such as; I’ve Got Your Backpack, who provide care packs for children affected by family violence and Kia Kaha Box, who provide care packs for women.

“These care packs are valuable for families who need to be relocated into emergency accommodation at short notice,” says Wilson.

"Woven Earth and the Auckland Victim Support Team strive together to fulfill a commitment to help these fleeing victims and their children feel supported, empowered, and confident in their new fresh start."

A donation of hand-made bears from NZ Police to Victim Support given to Woven Earth for inclusion in the care packs for families with children further demonstrates the will of agencies to work together in this area of need.

Having signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Woven Earth, Wilson saw another obvious challenge in Auckland’s limited housing stock.

“It’s brilliant having all the stuff Woven Earth provide, but it’s not going to be helpful if we don’t have the housing for victims of family violence to move into,” he says.

Sara has worked closely with the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) to make sure victims have access to a dedicated housing broker to help them find a new permanent home. This includes being able to choose from Housing New Zealand, community housing, or private rental options.

“It’s a process that might start with a Police referral, then include contact with other family harm agencies, government departments such as MSD along with community partners like Woven Earth,” says Sara.

“It’s about making sure we’re doing the best we can for victims of family violence who want a new start.”

In summarising Victim Support’s role in this area of need, Wilson says, “we provide the coordination and ability to bring the other parties together; the glue that hold things together – turning houses into homes for victims of family violence and harm.”

"When I entered the house I was stunned. I felt at home immediately. Everything was so thought through, especially my bedroom and the kids' rooms are amazing. It is just beautiful. I am so appreciative of what they have done," family violence victim.

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