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Starfish Project tackles poverty and unhealthy homes

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Parents Centre is spearheading a community led initiative to begin to address the complex issues surrounding child poverty and poor health in New Zealand.

Parents Centre has partnered with leading ventilation specialist, HRV, to provide ventilation and heating for a deserving and carefully selected family home. The Sustainability Trust is also joining the project - and will complete a full home assessment, provide insulation and curtains and energy analysis in the home, with the objective to reducing energy bills for the family.

The initiative has been named the 'Starfish Project' after the famous Starfish Story* about how to make a difference when the core issue, widespread poverty contributing to poor health, simply seems too big to tackle.

Chief Executive of Parents Centres, Viv Gurrey, says "Child poverty in this country is reaching epic proportions. Many children are suffering lasting health effects through living in poor conditions and unhealthy homes. Parents Centre see this as a significant community issue and we want to lead the way across New Zealand in developing community solutions - the time for talking at a community level is done - now we need to 'do '. We are laying a challenge down to everyone in the community to step up with us and make a quantum difference".

"The issues are complex and one organisation alone can't tackle the massive issues that surround how many families are living in New Zealand right now, but we can make a difference by keeping this issue alive and we can make the difference locally for one family. "

Parents Centres 'Starfish' family is the Taliulu family, from Porirua East, who are currently living in overcrowded and damp, cold conditions;

- 9 people are currently living in the small 3 bedroom home (including grandmother who is on dialysis)

- 5 children - ages 12, 11, 9, 8 and 21 months

- Little house insulation

- No ventilation

- Current heating consists of one stand alone gas heater (which contributes to dampness)

- Constant illness in winter from colds, flus and coughs and a definite threat of asthma related conditions

Bruce Gordon, Chief Executive of HRV, says, "We have seen the extent of cold, poorly ventilated homes that are damp and mouldy, right across the country. These unsatisfactory living conditions cause a myriad of health problems such as asthma, flu and the potential onset of a range of allergies. The unhealthy state of New Zealand homes is costing our communities and something must be done about it. We are pleased to be working with Parents Centre on this project, which is a step in a positive direction."�

Parents Centres see education and support networks as the key. "We will support this family with on-going parent education, development of networks and resources through their local Centre. This will make a long term difference to this family but initially they need a 'hand up' to get them started and someone to walk alongside them to help clear the way, " says Gurrey.

"We believe this as a significant community issue and we want to lead the way across New Zealand by developing solutions at a grass roots level. The Starfish Project is the first step and we are inviting everyone in the community to take up their own Starfish challenge, and help make a real difference," says Gurrey.

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