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Counselling for our young Cambridge school-aged children

Furnishing our children with skills to help them deal with life

Cambridge Lifeskills is an organisation that has been providing counselling to children and young people for nearly 22 years now. The only criterion is that the child or young person must be attending school in Cambridge and be between the ages of 5 and 15 years. This service is unique – there is no other known town in New Zealand offering a free counselling service to their children and young people.

Our counsellors work with the children in their own schools so the children feel comfortable in their own environment and do not lose school time by travelling to see the counsellors. There is however the opportunity for a child to see a counsellor in an independent venue if that is requested by the parents. We receive referrals from families, schools, local GPs, court appointed lawyers, the police, the DHB and other social agencies. Children will sometimes refer themselves. Last year alone our counsellors worked with 165 children and young people.

Some people struggle to understand why we need such a service in Cambridge. It is a stunning country town so people may like to think we are immune to social issues like domestic violence, aggression, anxiety, social isolation, grief, marriage break ups etc. The reality is Cambridge is just like most other towns in New Zealand and yes these issues and situations do occur here. When a child experiences stress and emotions due to normal life experiences, or they experience abuse of varying sorts, they can struggle to make sense of what they are experiencing. The aim of the Cambridge Lifeskills counsellors is to furnish our children and young people with skills they need to develop to deal with life and the emotions it involves and thus avoid developing unhealthy strategies like drugs, alcohol, crime or isolation.

Cambridge Lifeskills is not a government funded organisation though the government fully endorses the work we do. We are a not for profit charitable organisation. In essence this means we need to go out and seek funding (about $65,000) a year in order to keep providing the service. We have been heartened in the past 5 years by the increasing level of community support we have received. Businesses and organisations have stood up and said "We believe in the work you are doing – how can we help you?" Just last week another respected business offered to donate $15,000 to Cambridge Lifeskills for the next 3 years – how wonderful is that!

Look out for a raft of fund raising activities that are taking place in March and April; come along and join and learn more about the unique support that is available to our young people.

For more information check out our website www.cambridgelifeskills.co.nz.