The team of the Whanau Focus Centre

Hope beyond financial stress

by Andy Bryenton

In the two months since Dargaville’s Whanau Focus Centre brought together under one roof various agencies and advocacies addressing the needs of the elderly, disadvantaged youth, families and other vulnerable members of the community, the overarching theme they have discovered is one of extreme financial duress.

“We are dealing with critical family situations, and overwhelmingly the cause for that situation is financial,” said the team, who cover portfolios as varied as positive parenting, abuse prevention and age concern.

“It’s not just those who are single and unemployed. We assist those living on pensions, families, and low wage, low-hours workers who are in some cases worse off than those receiving government assistance.”

A common factor addressed is the rising cost and increasing instability of rental tenancies.

“After rent, we have some people come to us with only $30 or $40 left to cover everything else. We have to explore all entitlements, including governmental assistance and help from charitable organisations, for many of our clients.”

However, the message from these front lines is hopeful. With the combined experience and skills of the team who are now under one roof at the Whanau Focus Centre, families are being made aware of what they are entitled to, how to apportion their resources, and how to deal with and triumph over financial stress and its corrosive effect on relationships. Their services are free to the public, at their base in Victoria Street, Dargaville.