“I love helping families. Even a small change can help make life better for everyone. I help them understand how violence or witnessing violence done to others affects them,” said Barnardos’ Levin social worker Amy Fraser.
Personal circumstances were the driving force behind a radical change of career and study for Kāpiti social worker Amy Fraser, who has been with Barnardos Levin for the past four years working with families and children dealing with violence.
“Wonderful help from a hospital social worker at the time an unexpected pregnancy resulted in a stillbirth, made me rethink my direction in life,” she said. She was almost at the end of her Bachelor of Commerce but switched to a social work degree as a result of her contact with the social worker.
“I realised then that life is about making the world better, not about making lots of money,” she said. That change was not an easy one, initially.
Most of her family and friends were supportive of her surprise change though. After graduation she picked Barnardos because she was familiar with the organisation, having been a recipient of one of its services as a child.
“My mum put me into Barnardos childcare as she returned to work very soon after I was born. I had also worked with families in my work placement during my studies, though initially I did not think I could do this kind of work.”
After four years with the organisation, she is comfortable with the changes in her life and work and enjoys assisting others in improving their lives.
She said she has found that for some people violence is normal. “Some think nothing of going through their partner’s or child’s phone checking who they are talking to and they do not realise what that act signals to the other person. This is very common though and many think this is a normal thing to do.”
Amy urges parents under stress not to forget to look after themselves. “Take time for yourself. Half an hour after the kids have gone to bed, for example. Go outside and enjoy the fresh air, go to the beach or take a picnic.”
She said there is no shame in asking for help. “Often just one conversation can change your perspective or lift that black cloud.
“Make the most of the free community events that are on these holidays. Plan your trip away, pack enough drinks, and food for everyone, so you do not spend money you cannot afford. Do not be influenced by what is on social media is showing you.”
Barnardos is more than just childcare. It has been in New Zealand for 60 years and offers a number of free services to the Horowhenua community, such as LEAP for families facing multiple challenges, to Bumps to Babies, antenatal classes, parenting through separation and a children’s safety programme.
Barnardos has a free phone or chat helpline available: 0800 whatsup (0800 942 8787) or whatsup.co.nz. Both are available Mon-Sun 11 am to 10.30 or 11pm.
If you want to know more: barnardos.org.nz. Contact the local branch by phoning 06 3681668 or email Levin@barnardos.co.nz. You can find them at level 1, Kent and Little building, 29 Queen St West, Levin.
Amy said anyone needing help can contact Barnardos, or other agencies can refer you.