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9 MF-WendySOS copy-625All too often New Zealanders are reminded about the horrendous abuse and murder rate of our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.

Ongoing news reports of violent incidences within families continue to affirm the widely accepted view that an individual raised in a family fraught with violence and tension will more than likely express their emotions and behaviours towards their own offspring, perpetuating the volatile cycle.

If a safe home with peace and harmony is a foreign concept, family and social service agencies offer a range of support to help people make positive changes.

SOS Kaipara is one such organisation, supporting people since the early 1990s who are either caught in the rip of family violence, living within an angry whanau or struggling to deal with the aftermath of emotions and change once broken away from an abusive environment.

Group facilitator for SOS, trained teacher and counsellor Wendy Laird says the agency has a variety of educational programmes addressing issues concerning sexual and family violence including ‘Kia Kaha – Building Peaceful Family Lives’ (BPFL), a programme specifically designed to enhance harmony in the home.

“Our BPFL course includes looking at building a parents self-esteem and confidence, developing listening skills and understanding the negative impact of anger and conflict on a childs behaviour,” she says.

Last minute enquiries for the BPFL course are welcome or just turn up on July 27, 9am, Archie Bull Hall, Kaiwaka.

“There is a wide age and culture range amongst participants which enriches the group experience. I believe that working together, supporting each other to think about what is healthy and peaceful and practising how to achieve these goals in our lives, is the most effective process. Nāu te rourou, nāku te rourou ka ora te iwi,” she says.

Like most social programmes that aim for ongoing change, education, support and encouraging self-awareness are key factors. The BPFL programme offers a safe place for parents to assess their parenting style and current attitudes about and expectations towards, their children.

“As a facilitator, I am committed to a participant-centred, strengths-based practice,” Laird says. “We offer a relaxed atmosphere where people can gather strength, share experiences, make friends and gain confidence in parenting skills, especially with setting boundaries, dealing with anger and developing effective communication.”

The merit of the programme lies in the feedback of the many participants who have passed through the course and made positive changes to their lives.

A recent participant told Laird that she was so traumatised after running away with her daughter from an abusive environment, that she did not realise she was taking her anger out on her child.

“She said she hated to see her daughter so unhappy but didn’t think she could even help herself to feel better,” Laird says. “She said it was so good to talk at the group, to help others and receive help and a relief to get a loving relationship back with her daughter.

“Another person said that now she has learnt how to listen to her son better, he now talks to her instead of having tantrums every time something goes wrong."

Laird is passionate about her work in the field of violence prevention and healthy relationships, a vocation she has been a part of ‘all my life’. She says she combines the lessons learnt from her own personal life experiences into her ongoing work.

“I encourage all of us including myself, to care for ourselves,” Laird says. “Our lives are often hard and traumatised and we are hurt by them. Developing safety, resilience and compassion protects us and those we love.”

n For more information regarding programmes, workshops and support services, contact SOS Kaipara (09) 439 6070, sos@maxnet.co.nz, www.soskaipara.com

OPEN DOOR: Group Facilitator and SOS Kaipara counsellor, Wendy Laird, welcomes all who need assistance and support.

“We offer a relaxed atmosphere where people can gather strength, share experiences, make friends and gain confidence in parenting skills, especially with setting boundaries…”

- Wendy Laird, SOS Kaipara
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