Funding cut sees support service axed

By Ilona Hanne

Stratford has lost a weekly service working with families affected by family violence as confirmed at a public meeting held in Hawera on Monday.

HRC Family Counselling Services has cut back its staff due to a lack of funding, but "we are still here and we are committed to staying here" says the newly appointed chairperson of the HRC board, Te Aroha Hohaia.

She made the statement at the public meeting on Monday, where she added that they will re-open after the Christmas period on January 7, "albeit in a much scaled back form". HRC has dropped from eight to three employees.

Acting rural Taranaki family violence prevention co-ordinator Sergeant Simon Howard, says that the police are "definitely going to feel the loss of the services offered by HRC as they followed up on every domestic incident we had" adding that "as of now, we don't have that anymore".

The cuts means that Stratford has lost the weekly drop-in office that Pam Bassett, a founding member of HRC whose position was part of the cuts made, ran in the Community House in town.

Stratford residents are part of the 500 families which Pam says HRC now won't be able to work with next year. She remains on the board of governance for HRC "for the time being". Pam says that there is increased demand from a variety of agencies for funding, meaning more people are seeking funding from the same pot of money.

The struggle for funding has impacted another agency in the area that also serves Stratford residents. The Taranaki Safer Family Centre recently advised it will potentially have to close in response to a lack of funding needed to meet basic services.

The Stratford Press spoke to two people directly impacted by the cuts. We will be publishing our interviews with them in next week's edition.

- Stratford Press

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