Cambridge can be proud of its decrease in youth crime over the years since Cambridge Lifeskills was established, as Cambridge Police Sergeant Gordon Grantham said earlier this year, "I have no doubt that the effort put into managing personal and social issues affecting youth by the Lifeskills Ins is the reason our youth crime has reduced so dramatically."
However a serious area of growing concern is family violence, in this arena if we scratch the surface, Cambridge is no different from any other town in New Zealand; in relation to family and domestic violence we are up there, with statistics to prove it. In Cambridge the statistics from January to June 2015 there has been an average of 6 reported domestic violence (DV) incidents (Waipa Waitomo Women's Refuge) where police have been involved – we know this is the tip of the iceberg. There is a flow on effect to our service with children and families needing appropriate support. We are struggling with DV in our community and need additional resources to cater for this. Hamilton services are congested and unable to keep up with the demands on their services.
Recently three Labour MPs, Jacinda Ardern (Spokesperson for Justice & Children), Sue Moroney (Spokesperson for Social Development) and Kelvin Davis (Associate Justice Spokesperson for Sexual & Domestic Violence) made a visit to Cambridge Lifeskills. The MPs wanted to visit to see and hear firsthand about the valuable work of Cambridge Lifeskills. Jacinda expressed her passion and support for the work Cambridge Lifeskills does, noting the need for resources to go towards these types of organisations, including other places like Plunket and CYFS.
Cambridge Lifeskills Chairperson Beryl Emery and Manager Sandy Wesford shared with the MPs the work of the local counselling organisation, and how it is a unique service in NZ, operating since 1992. The MPs acknowledged that they didn't know of any other services in NZ that carry out free counselling in schools for 5 – 15 year olds and their families. Local MP Louise Upston is also aware of the work of Cambridge Lifeskills endorsing and championing the organisation for the work we do.
The need for the service we provide is apparent with the ongoing numbers of referrals we have received this year to date. Sadly many of the issues are situations children and young people should have no knowledge of – domestic violence, self harm, poor social skills and the inability to relate to peers and make friends, bullying, sexual abuse – the list is endless.
We at Cambridge Lifeskills do worry about young people in other towns who