Quake grant eases young mum's worries

By Jarrod Booker

Natalie O'Brien says she's struggling without Jaime Gilbert (centre, with Levi). Photo / Supplied, Facebook
Natalie O'Brien says she's struggling without Jaime Gilbert (centre, with Levi). Photo / Supplied, Facebook

Natalie O'Brien lost her partner in the Christchurch earthquakes and now worries about what kind of future she can provide for her children.

But a $10,000 grant announced yesterday for quake-bereaved families would make things easier, she said.

Ms O'Brien's partner and the father of her two young children, Jaime Gilbert, 22, died when the bar Iconic he was working at collapsed on top of him in last year's February earthquake.

The loss of Mr Gilbert - who was the family's primary breadwinner - leaves Ms O'Brien "feeling powerless" on a benefit, and "scraping by on the bones of my butt" to support herself, Levi, 3, and India, 1.

She would like to further herself, but feels she needs to be there for her kids, and any part-time work she does will barely cover the cost of childcare.

"It's hard because I worry what I can provide for my children for their future," Ms O'Brien said.

"It adds a lot of pressure."

The Red Cross has announced grants of $10,000 for each of the 185 families who lost loved ones in the quake.

Red Cross Earthquake Commission head Sir John Hansen said feedback indicated many were still struggling.

The families got an initial $10,000 from the Red Cross in March last year.

The Red Cross is also giving more aid to those most seriously injured in the quake, after an initial payment of $750 each to 23 people last year.

Red Cross quake appeals have raised more than $115 million.

In total, almost $68 million in grants has been made to 77,308 people. The remaining $33 million is earmarked for grants which are still open.

- NZ Herald

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