A New Zealand charity with branches in Northland is one of three finalists for the Mitre 10 Community of the Year award, recognising its efforts to look after children in foster care.

Foster Hope New Zealand is honoured to be a finalist, chairwoman and founder Louise Allnutt said.

"Receiving this nomination reflects the incredible support our many volunteers, local businesses, members of the public, social workers and foster families have provided over the past 10 years," Allnutt said.

"We realised that many children in care often arrive at new placements with nothing but the clothes on their backs and belongings in a rubbish bag. This is what led to the formation of Foster Hope in 2010."


She said the charity was formed on the belief that every child in foster care deserves to know their community cares about them.

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More than 6000 children are in foster care in New Zealand and Foster Hope works with 150 agencies via its eight branches across the country.

The organisation supports children in care by providing them with a backpack full of essential and comforting items to ease their way, funding for camps, winter pyjamas, Christmas presents, clothing packs and flat packs for teens ageing out of foster care.

Foster Hope has been operating in Northland with Debbie Sutcliffe as its co-ordinator for the past eight years providing basics for children going into foster care.

Together with her group of "very dedicated volunteers who are never too busy to help", Sutcliffe hands out 700-800 backpacks a year from their office near Kerikeri across Northland to foster care agencies who distribute them to the kids.

"Some children have few belongings because sometimes they arrive in foster care very quickly. The backpacks are a little symbol of love," Sutcliffe said.

The charity was nominated along with Good Bitches Baking, who also operate in Northland, and Zealandia, Wellington's eco-sanctuary. The winner will be announced later this month.