Hope for foster kids

Central Leader - - NEWS - By RACHAEL CLARKE

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.