Funding cuts threaten youth schemes

By Doug Laing

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Funding cuts hitting some at-risk children's programmes are a "colossal and potentially fatal" blow according to the founder of one Hawke's Bay trust which is battling on regardless to avoid letting down the often already let-down children in its care.

Ros Rowe, of the Leg-Up Trust, which has been running programmes with horses and young people for 14 years, was commenting in a newsletter to supporters after being told on Thursday that funding won't be available for new the school term.

The trust had to consider canning the programme for troubled children referred by Social Workers in Schools, a Government initiative run by non-profit agency Family Works, but Mrs Rowe said that would mean telling the children they would never see their "beloved horses" again.

The last thing these kids need is apparent betrayal by people they trust.
Ros Rowe of the Leg-Up Trust

Yesterday she told Hawke's Bay Today that an accountant, who is also a member of the trust, "crunched the numbers" and recommended the work carry on "free of charge" and that the trust could "worry about the rest later".

"The blow was colossal and potentially fatal," she wrote in the newsletter.

"But people both inside and outside our organisation gave us the necessary resolve to make the decision to allow the kids to keep coming free of charge until a permanent solution can be found.

"The last thing these kids need is apparent betrayal by people they trust," she said, adding yesterday that she had heard some remarkable stories from children over the years as they opened up about events in their lives, because of their confidence in the people around them, when they may not have been ready to divulge theinformation to others.

Mrs Rowe said how the trust would sustain its programmes "is anybody's guess".

"But it is the lesser of two evils," she said.

It is understood departmental funding cuts will hit several "outside" programmes utilised by Social Workers in Schools as it assesses the needs of children coming to the notice of the social workers.

Mrs Rowe said: "Other small organisations that work with kids alongside Social Workers in Schools will also be affected by the MSD funding cuts. In my opinion, the SWiSies are key to the wellbeing of many children in the Bay."

The Leg-Up Trust, which was established in 2002 and runs "Horse Sense" courses in a mission to "establish connections between horses and emotionally, behaviourally, socially or otherwise disadvantaged young people, to assist anger management and effective communication, and to make other changes that will benefit them in their adult lives."

It runs programmes throughout the year for youth, particularly those who are victims of abuse, at risk of offending or suicide, and others with challenging attitudes.

Other programmes it runs are tailored to specific needs, including half- or full-day programmes for school groups, youth groups and other agencies.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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