Little things making a big difference

By Petrina Wright | Posted: Monday June 24, 2024

It is often the little things that can make the biggest difference.

That is true for a fund which has been established to help families pay for small things which can be a distraction or barrier to them overcoming the larger challenges they are seeking support from Family Works for.

Presbyterian Women Aotearoa NZ donated $75,000 to Family Works New Zealand (FWNZ) towards supporting women and children experiencing complex issues such as family and/or sexual violence, housing crisis and/or homelessness. 

FWNZ earmarked the funds to roll out the Little Things initiative across the country, with each region receiving $10,000 to implement the initiative.

Little Things supports families to pay for small but often devastating hurdles, such as school shoes, medical bills, fuel or hygiene products.  Each item must cost less than $500.

Family Works director Judith McInerney said the funding had been gratefully received from all the families Family Works had assisted.

“Sometimes it can be the small issues that create the greatest stress.

“They may not seem big to us, but they are to the families we work with.”

Examples of how the funding has been used to support Southland families:

School uniforms

Three sisters had been given second-hand uniform items to attend their new school, but the uniforms were not in great condition. Through Little Things, the family was able to purchase new uniform items. This lifted the children’s self-esteem and gave them confidence in their new environment, and the parents felt less stressed and worried about them not fitting in.

Maternity clothing

A young mother struggling to make ends meet could not afford to buy clothes to accommodate her changing body and the things she needed for when her baby was born. This had negatively affected her self-esteem as a young person and an expectant mother.

School shoes

A young boy was going to school with broken shoes which needed to be taped up.  He was being teased daily by other children. He didn’t want to go to school and cried a lot.  His mother was really struggling to meet other basic needs so there was no money for new or second-hand shoes.  With funds from Little Things the mother was able to buy a new pair of shoes for her son. The young boy was now much happier to go to school and the teasing had stopped.

School and camp fees

A family could not afford to pay school fees or send their child on school camp as they were struggling to meet other basic costs. The parents and their child felt embarrassed, and this resulted in the child often being absent from school.  Receiving assistance to pay the school fees helped the parents feel more confident in working with the school, and their child was able to attend camp, helping to make them feel more connected with their peers and teachers. The child’s attendance improved significantly as a result.