Many families throughout our community are feeling under pressure as Christmas draws near.

The Christchurch Methodist Mission is providing the support that these families need to make a brighter Christmas. From now until Christmas, CMM staff from the Social Services, Housing and Community Response teams will work with families throughout Canterbury and Marlborough that are in need of support.

Anne Gibling, Team Leader of the Community Response team, says that there is huge pressure on parents in the lead up to Christmas with staff receiving more referrals for emergency assistance. "Parents are feeling stressed. Our team will be providing food parcels, emergency funding for things such as power bills and assistance with housing. We will also be doing a lot of one to one work with children right up until the school year ends," says Anne. "Every person in our team has five Support a Family hampers to offer each of the schools we work with. Families they know that are struggling will be able to enjoy Christmas this year."

The Support a Family initiative also plays a huge part in helping families in CMM's community housing. "The hampers are a real lifesaver. They know it's coming which takes so much of the stress away," says Housing Whānau Support Worker Annie Smith. "Leading up to Christmas there is an increase in referrals for food parcels. Families are under stress. Their thoughts are fixed on getting through the next few months with Christmas, school holidays and school costs just around the corner. It is really difficult because they are on a low fixed income but there are so many extra expenses at this time of year."

Along with food parcels and Christmas hampers, Annie talks to families about what holiday programmes and activities are available for free during the summer break and how they can access these. This helps families not to blow their budgets keeping their children entertained over the 6 week holiday period.

Much like Annie, CMM's Social Services team is working with their clients around what they can do for free at this time of year to avoid getting into debt. The team of social workers, child & family psychologists and budget advisors will work frantically until Christmas to ensure that no one is left waiting for support over the holidays. Two new child & family psychologists have recently been employed to respond to the mental health needs of children, which are often exacerbated at Christmas. They will play a key role in the Methodist Mission's response to the mental health crisis in Canterbury through the new collaboration with the Canterbury District Health Board.

CMM Social Services Manager Sue van Deurs says that a lot of her team's focus will be preparing their clients how to handle Christmas. "There is a lot of tension around Christmas," says Sue. "Trying to meet the expectations of everyone is one of the reasons for this. For some, it is actually a miserable time because they don't have their children and that is really difficult."

Sue and her team will be providing wrap-around support to families, referring them to receive Support a Family hampers and providing assistance such as budgeting advice and help with parenting.

Donate to our Christmas Appeal by clicking here to make a donation via debit/credit card or internet banking. Your support will make a difference to family that is struggling this Christmas. 

CMM making difference