Lifeline Aotearoa faces closure because of lack of funds

Lifeline offers 24-hour help lines for people in crisis. Photo / iStock
Lifeline offers 24-hour help lines for people in crisis. Photo / iStock

Counselling service Lifeline Aotearoa is searching for a lifeline of its own after announcing it only has enough money to run for one more year.

The organisation has had to restructure its staff, including redundancies and having its chief executive work part-time, in a bid to stay afloat.

Established in 1964, Lifeline provides several counselling and suicide prevention services including 24-hour help lines for people in crisis.

Rachel Smalley: Lifeline is a valuable service that must continue

By June 30, 2017, all the company's reserves and funds from a new mortgage on its Auckland property will be exhausted.

Lifeline board chairman Ben Palmer said appeals for Government help were rejected and they are appealing to the public for help.

"Unfortunately, these changes only buy Lifeline another year," Mr Palmer said.

"In that time, the board will do whatever it can to try and secure the funds Lifeline requires annually to remain open, including launching further public support campaigns."

Mr Palmer said New Zealand's suicide rate, which continued to reach "epidemic proportions" meant services provided by organisations such as Lifeline were vital for the community.

"[A total of] 564 Kiwis died by suicide last year, the highest number on record and nearly double the annual road toll, which stood at 321," he said.

"For young New Zealanders, particularly Maori, suicide is the leading cause of death."

The Green Party said revelations Lifeline Aotearoa was guaranteed only another year of service was another blow to an already strained mental health system.

Green Party health spokesman Kevin Hague said if Lifeline's help lines were axed, so too would a significant safety net for many New Zealanders.

"When a service that receives 15,000 calls from New Zealanders in distress and needing mental health assistance is threatened with closure, there are serious questions about the viability of the entire mental health system," he said.

Anyone wanting to support the organisation can go to:


- NZ Herald

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