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Single Parent Services Waikato (SPSW) is a development between Link House and Birthright (Waikato) Te Whanautanga Tika Charitable Trusts, enabling people to access all the services of both organisations in one place. Their primary aim is to build a community in which families led by one parent can thrive as powerfully as any other.

Birthright Waikato has been operating in Hamilton since 1958 and is one of the oldest community based social service groups operating in the area. Birthright has always had single parent families at its core and has been very vocal on the issues facing families who are parenting alone.

Established in 1981, Link House Agency provided a community-based safety net for single parent families living in Hamilton. Research suggests that the support that the agency provides during this time of adjustment and transition is successful and allows parents and children to develop strategies for safety, good communication and healthy relationships.

SPSW Client Service Coordinator Rebecca Ririnui says people who are managing a family on their own are often juggling a lot of different things at the one time. “We want to make things as easy as possible, and do this by providing one-stop-support to families led by one parent, grandparent or legal guardian.”

SPW supports single parent families with many of the challenges that they face today, whether it be finding appropriate housing, navigating their way through Work & Income processes or negotiating with school about entitlements for their children.

“Working through the courts or any other systems that can often be confusing and can quickly become overwhelming requires support and advocacy, and that is what SPSW is here for,” explains Rebecca.

SPSW can also assist with school uniforms, shoes, camps and other school expenses for families registered and currently engaged with the service via the SPSW resource social worker.

Counselling services offer help when people are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, traumatised, sad, depressed or are grieving. SPSW counsellors are able to listen and ask the right questions to develop a pathway forward.

“We encourage people to drop-in and chat, and to help themselves to a hot drink, while becoming familiar with the agency by reading pamphlets and booklets about services we provide,” says Rebecca.

There are many ways the Hamilton and Waikato communities can help SPSW. “Every year we provide Christmas presents and food to our families who otherwise struggle to get these together for their children. We can only do this because people give us presents and food to pass forward,” explains Rebecca.

If you would like to donate either funds or presents to support this generous initiative, please drop presents off to the office at 2 Dawson St, Hamilton East or donate via the website (spsw.org.nz) with the reference ‘Christmas’.

SPSW accept donations of food, quality children’s clothing, pushchairs, safety seats, curtains, quality bedding, knitwear, nappies and sanitary products. These items are made available to families they are working with and are a practical way of helping out especially when families are experiencing challenging circumstances. Donated goods can be delivered to SPSW offices.

Society has all sorts of myths about ‘solo mums’ that make it much harder than it needs to be for solo parents, grandparents or guardians. “We’d love to come and explore some of these myths and discuss the issues facing families led by one parent with any community group,” says Rebecca. “We talk with Rotary clubs, women’s groups, student groups and community groups.”

During the school term, SPSW holds monthly workshops that aim to provide information and practical day-to-day skills on a variety of topics such as keeping your home warm on a tight budget or helping fathers parenting alone have conversations about menstruation with their daughters. Koha is welcomed at all of the workshops as are financial donations. These can be supported by the general public through a donation via the website, using the reference ‘Workshops’.

I take this opportunity to wish all Seasons readers Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2019.

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