Here to help: Central Lakes Family Services' Tina Mongston, left, and Vicky Fenton are supporting parents doing it tough


Queenstown’s Central Lakes Family Services (CLFS) is recruiting for staff in the wake of steadily-increasing referrals for families and children since last year’s lockdown.

The referrals are coming from ‘‘all over the community’’ including self-referrals, referrals from agencies, schools and the health sector, CLFS general manager Tina Mongston says.

‘‘There’s certainly more demand placed for child and youth workers in particular,’’ she says.

Family case worker Vicky Fenton says children are reporting general increases in anxiety,
worry and fear.

‘‘I’ve found there’s a lot of just friendship issues, just managing and expressing their emotions, not understanding necessarily what’s going on in their body and just the negative thoughts they’re getting,’’ Fenton says.

Mongston says the service is also seeing more parents reach out for help.

‘‘There’s been a lot of really good positive messaging go out through various platforms for
people to reach out and seek support … as a result of it, it’s great to see people stepping out and that’s what we want.

‘‘Messaging is working so we need to improve the workforce, get those numbers up in the
workforce, to back that up,’’ she says.

Beginning this Thursday, CLFS is holding a free, four-week series of in-person parenting workshops to help parents connect with each other and and work on their parenting skills.

The workshops will run for two hours each Thursday morning and will cover parenting styles, communication strategies, ages and stages, positive parenting, teaching new skills, managing behaviour and self-care.

‘‘One of the absolute gems that comes out of group programmes is that [participants] connect, they understand, they can empathise with one another and normalise, so they’re not doing this by themselves,’’ Mongston says.

The hope is that the course will help parents put some ‘‘great strategies’’ in place as early as possible.

‘‘It’s hard work when you’re dealing with crisis at the other end … what we’re trying to do  is look at, really, the education, early intervention, prevention, that’s where we want to be.’’

After the first four-week programme, a second series will begin the following school term
and will run in the evenings.

CLFS is aiming to keep the groups small due to Covid restrictions, but encourages parents to register their interest as well as seek individual support when they need it.

‘‘If people are interested and feel as though they can’t wait to the next programme we’re not going to leave them sitting there for a term, they can still get the support they need,’’ Mongston says.