A healthy, happy whānau is considered by many to be one of the most important parts of life. Unfortunately, for some families, creating a healthy home environment that’s free from violence can be difficult to achieve for a variety of reasons.
A Salvation Army and Parenting Place pathway, called Breakthrough, aims to break the cycle of family violence by focusing on offering support and education to males and father figures across Aotearoa.
Thanks to support from The Warehouse Group through fundraising at our 2017 Gala Dinner, $653,000 was raised to go towards the development of the two-year Breakthrough programme.
“We wanted to address the issue of family violence by creating a programme tailored to offer support for men, which we saw as a gap in the market,” said Louise Haines, Implementation Manager at Parenting Place.
The pathway is broken down into three key areas of learning: parenting support, mentoring, an outdoor experience where fathers and one of their children can bond in an adventure setting.
“We’re very proud that the funds raised at the Gala Dinner have been able to have such a tremendous impact on men and their families all across Aotearoa,” says Bronwyn Clayden, Community Project Manager at The Warehouse Group. “A healthy community starts in the homes of the people who live there, and it’s our hope that the programme will continue to grow and expand to help change the life outcomes for countless New Zealanders.”
To-date, the initiative has enabled 150 men from across New Zealand who have struggled with violence in the past to continue the journey of restoration and reconciliation with their whānau. Those men have graduated from the first component of the Breakthrough pathway under the parenting support pillar, called Building Awesome Matua, an eight-week parenting course.
As participants graduate the course, they often have touching stories to share of how the initiative has helped them grow in their role as a father figure and partner in their family. These perspectives help illustrate the incredible impact the course has had on their lives.
One graduate, a man who participated in the course in Wiri Men’s Prison, shared how he overcame difficulty in speaking with his daughter thanks to the lessons he learned from facilitators. With him being in prison, their relationship had become understandably strained due to the distance and lack of common interests to speak about.
He was encouraged to buy a pack of seeds to plant at the prison, with his daughter doing the same back home. They suddenly had a mutual conversation topic to discuss, as they could talk about their seeds, and how they were growing and nurturing them. The father shared that for the first time he had a renewed hope that their relationship could grow and strengthen, and that over time they’ll be able to create a loving and trusting bond.
Another young father who completed the course shared how he’s learned to be less selfish, and instead is prioritising the needs of his son and his son’s mother. This has completely transformed the dynamic of their interactions, with his son’s mother now happy to drop their son off for visits, and the father being committed to prioritising time with his son.
He’s also been able to help encourage a friend of his who has been an absent father to understand the importance of his role as a father, of building healthy and positive relationships, and of creating strong foundations for his tamariki.
Thanks to the success of the pathway over the last two years, even more fathers will be able to have success stories of their own. Parenting Place and Salvation Army plan on expanding the courses into Kaitaia, Taranaki and Dunedin in 2020, and are hoping to train additional facilitators to be able to reach even more fathers and families in need.