Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Support group helps parents healing from abuse

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The support group Refresh helps families across Auckland and has a chapter in Pakuranga. Photo supplied

Sixteen years ago Christina Teikamata decided to step out of an abusive marriage and helped form a support group for single parents – including those living in east Auckland – undergoing a similar journey.

Little did she realise then that it would give her a huge sense of purpose and help with her healing process.

Once Christina came to terms with the initial shock and shame of her dreams of a perfect marriage being shattered, the single mother-of-four told herself that instead of sinking into a cesspool of negativity and self-pity she must get a grip and put her energy into a greater cause.

The full-time social worker with a degree in Psychology and Counselling says, “Many single mothers feel like they were stigmatised and judged. I wanted to change the narrative.

“My mission was to help people feel supported, grow, and show them that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I wanted them to be overcomers, build new friendships and make meaningful connections in a safe environment.”

On how the volunteer support group came to be, she reminisces, “In those days I felt very isolated. Life was hard.

“It’s easy to suffer from depression as you are ashamed to tell your family and friends about it.

“You want your problems to go away. A small group of single mothers were supported by Life Church to start a community support group for single mothers and children.

“Gradually, I reached out to a few single mums I knew. I’d invite them over for a coffee meet. We would ring each other regularly and go for walks together.

“Initially we were just the six of us, and years later we are all best friends,” she says with pride.

“Our children grew up together. When our group expanded to 30 women and children, we could no longer accommodate them in our house.

“Now we have 40 families in east Auckland with 58 children who attend regularly.

“We currently have chapters in five different locations including the North Shore, South Auckland, Henderson, Central Auckland and Pakuranga.

“Giving back has helped me overcome my own situation,” reflects Christina.

“Refresh is a safe space to share, relax and have chats with plenty of laughs.”

The group meets at the Anchorage Community House monthly on a Saturday from 2-4pm for afternoon tea and luckily for the mums, there is childcare available.

One event the members look forward to is the annual Pamper Day where they are treated to facials, manicures, haircuts, makeup, and a relaxing massage, topped with delicious catering.

All events and groups are supported by funding and Life Church volunteers.

Members are treated to free, preloved clothing, shoes, and toys.

Other activities include a Boat Day for families to experience a fun day out on boats learning new skills and water confidence.

They are taught kayaking, paddle boarding and the fine art of catching a fish.

Food boxes and Christmas gifts are provided for the families by Life Church and All Saints Church Howick. Life Church also organises working bees who help out with the families gardening jobs.

  • For more information email refresh@lifecommunity.org.nz

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