Guardian Angels play a vital role in the local community

By PSS | Posted: Wednesday November 7, 2018

We see children, young people and their families when they are at their lowest point and need a hand to face life’s challenges.

Family Works supports over 1,117 Southland families per year with social services, including Foster Care, Family Start Programme, Buddy Programmes, Parenting Programmes, Counselling, Social Work Support Strengthening Families service and Family Dispute Resolution Services. Service demand continues to grow but funding limits the amount of work that can be done to help local families provide a safe, supportive environment for their children. By providing regular monthly or one off financial support, Guardian Angels are actively helping Family Works meet demands and provide support for more children and young people in the local community.

Being an Angel

Heather Kelly has been a Family Works Guardian Angel since the programme was launched in 2011 and remains as passionate about the initiative as she was when she joined it.

Heather, a past resident at Enliven home, Walmsley House and a present resident at Peacehaven Village, was initially drawn to a Family Works advert, advertising for staff. While Heather’s circumstances meant she could not apply, she was still eager to help Family Works and upon further investigation, found a brochure about being a Guardian Angel. Heather decided then and there that being a Guardian Angel was an ideal way for her to contribute to the young people in her community.

During Heather’s working years, she spent time working for the Ministry at a church in Invercargill, becoming heavily involved with the outreach programme for struggling families in the community. “I understood the struggles families face and the strain it puts on the children,” she says. 

“I am invested in the welfare of people of all ages, especially children. The experience of being loved, cared about, valued and respected"

For me, it seems to be a complete no brainer – I’m passionate about Family Works and I fully support the Guardian Angel dimension.
Heather sees the work that Family Works does with children and young parents as vitally important.

“They (the social workers) get alongside these young people and that’s just what they need – someone to get alongside them, walk in their shoes for a bit. That’s what will change attitudes, lives and minds,” she says. “Since I am now not able to work, I would like to be able to contribute to someone else making a difference"

After 7 years, Heather is as passionate and proud to be involved with Family Works as she was when first drawn to it – a real Guardian Angel.

The difference it makes

Miriam and her children recently left a long term abusive relationship. Although she knew that she shouldn’t go back to her partner, she felt she couldn’t cope on her own and was afraid of what her partner would do if she didn’t take him back.

She struggled with the daily demands of parenting, felt afraid and isolated. She turned to her GP for support,who referred her to Family Works.

A Family Works social worker met with Miriam and together decided what assistance would be beneficial for her family. Family Works provided help with parenting skills and Foster Care so the children and Miriam could have a break while she worked through the domestic violence issues with other organisations.

Through Family Works and other organisations help, great progress was made enabling Miriam to have confidence in her parenting abilities and not return to an abusive relationship.

*Names and some details have been changed to preserve identities.