Hope for foster kids
Kiwi foster children can arrive at their new homes in the middle of the night with only the clothes on their backs.
Louise Allnutt runs a charity called Foster Hope that aims to make the traumatic transition a little easier.
‘‘We assume these things don’t happen in our backyard – but they do. I’m continually surprised by these kinds of stories every day,’’ she says.
The charity, based in Auckland, Northland, Wellington, Hamilton, Christchurch, Dunedin and the West Coast, started with just a teddy bear in 2010.
Allnutt thought a bear would be a nice gift for every child removed from their home.
‘‘It’s something they can keep for themselves and something that will always be there.
‘‘I know in New Zealand we have far too many second-hand teddy bears, so it is a great way to reuse them,’’ Allnutt says.
The idea eventually formed into what the charity does now – donating backpacks filled with toiletries, a storage bag, a teddy bear, a book and a toy.
‘‘It’s degrading for the kids who have to chuck everything they own in the black rubbish bag because they don’t own a bag themselves or because they are in a rush.’’
Allnutt holds two packing days a year in Auckland, making a total of 800 backpacks across both.
The next day she hires a van and delivers all of the packs to multiple agencies.
Nationwide 2600 backpacks are created a year.
‘‘Child Youth and Family (CYF) say there are about 2000 kids in their care. I suspect there are other kids being looked after by aunties and grandparents, so I’d say there are about 8000 kids in care in New Zealand. We’re doing a pretty good job of keeping up, I think.’’
The charity struggles with storage space and transport – at the moment donated items are held at Allnutt’s home.
‘‘I have barely any space here so I try to deliver the items to agencies immediately.
‘‘That’s our biggest issue – if we had a storage unit, this would allow us to collect all through the year.
‘‘We also struggle with transport.
‘‘I often wonder if courier companies, removal companies and company representatives travelling between areas aren’t running at full capacity and could help out.’’
The pyjamas drive is the latest initiative, finishing at the end of June.
‘‘We are after brand new pyjamas because most of the kids have only ever owned hand-medowns.’’
Foster Hope founder Louise Allnutt gives backpacks full of treats to foster children.