The Taranaki Women’s Refuge provides services for women and their children affected by domestic violence. For the last eight years, the organisation has also been providing the ASPIRE Men's Project.
“There was no service for men who were reaching out for help to change their relationship behaviour. There were only mandated programmes through the police. Women attending our groups felt that if their husband or partner could hear our learnings, they would really benefit from that,” Shona Smith, Relationships Manager, said.
Since it began, the Aspire programme has worked with over 180 men. 75% of referrals are self-referrals. 74% of men were seeking support in their relationship with their current partner.
“Following an external review of the programme, one of the opportunities was to grow the programme, particularly by employing a second social worker and succession planning. Our current social worker, David, is highly experienced in his field of practice."
A grant of $60k from Toi Foundation enabled the Taranaki Women’s Refuge to plan to grow the programme’s capacity. “I'm not sure we would be able to get that funding from another funder. We would have had to build up the funds ourselves from fundraising events over a long period of time.”
“Our Social Worker discusses with the men about their behaviours in relationships, and gives them tools and strategies. It is trying to break that cycle and make positive change. Because of funding like this, we have the flexibility to offer more sessions where needed,” Shona said.
“Men who have been through it report improved self-esteem, a better outlook on life and improved relationships. They also report thinking about each situation as they arise and how to deal with them,” Shona said.
“We want to employ a second social worker so that we can hopefully double the support we provide in the next year. We have been searching for that person for some time. We hope the right person is out there.”