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CLIENT NEWS: Refuge calling for children's gifts this Christmas

Waikato Women’s Refuge – Te Whakaruruhau is calling on the Waikato community for donations to help support families affected by domestic violence this Christmas.

The refuge, which has helped more than 4000 Waikato women escape violent and abusive relationships during 2017, is asking for new, unwrapped toys and presents for children aged 0-16 to give to the children in their service.

Waikato Women’s Refuge co-founder and CEO Ruahine Albert QSM says domestic violence rates increase significantly during the Christmas and New Year season.

“We often have this picture of Christmas being a happy, fun time spent with loved ones. But the reality is that’s just not the case for many people,” she says. “The added financial strain Christmas brings, along with the increased use of alcohol and other family pressures contribute to an increase in the occurrence of domestic violence.”

Ms Albert estimates the Refuge helps around 500 women and children during the Christmas period.

“Christmas is the busiest time of year for our crisis staff,” says Ms Albert. “Unfortunately, our services are always in demand, but the need is greater during Christmas and New Year.

“We rely heavily on the generosity of donors to help women and children who need our help, and we’re so grateful for the support and aroha we receive from our community.”

Over Christmas, the Refuge’s six Hamilton safe houses, which can accommodate around 240 women and children, are typically full. On Christmas Day, the Refuge provides a shared breakfast with the help of volunteers, and a Christmas dinner where gifts are distributed.

Donations of new, unwrapped toys and presents can be dropped off to the Refuge’s office at 59 Commerce Street in Frankton. Donations of toiletries, non-perishable grocery items and financial donations are also appreciated.

Toys can also be purchased from The Warehouse, corner of Ward and Anglesea streets in Hamilton, and dropped off, unwrapped, at the present wrapping station at the bottom of the escalators in the main entrance.

People can contact the refuge for more information, or to volunteer their time and support, by phoning 07 855 1569. This is also the refuge’s crisis line, and help is available 24 hours a day.

For more information visit waikatowomensrefuge.co.nz or follow Te Whakaruruhau on Facebook and Instagram.