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Rundown house to healthy home

21 September 2022
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Olivia* is a 19-year-old single mother of two, who has grown up in extreme poverty with a mother who had mental health issues. Olivia’s eldest son is almost five and about to start school, whilst her youngest child is just two years old.

Twelve months ago, Olivia needed to move from her current rental home, but had trouble finding a suitable place in time to avoid emergency housing. All she could find was a rundown house, which fell far below the Healthy Homes Standards, and had no option but to take it. The landlord charged cheap rent in lieu of not complaining, but there was a price to pay – the family’s health was beginning to decline. Whilst sick, her children were unable to attend preschool and Olivia was unable to attend school, so she was in constant catch up mode.

Olivia worked hard at school and passed level 3 NCEA, receiving several awards at her school prize giving. Olivia was determined to provide her children with a better life than she had and was keen to work part-time, once her eldest son started school, but suffered with low self-esteem and needed support to get started. This is where our Youth Service Coach Alannah began working with her.

A turning point

Olivia was given the encouragement, motivation and help she needed to turn her family’s living situation around. She had attended a Presbyterian Support budgeting course where she learnt the skills to live on a tight budget. Whilst at school, Olivia learnt how to make cheap healthy meal choices and her health has improved as a result.

With the change in the rental market favouring the renter, and with Alannah’s support and encouragement, it was time for Olivia to move house. Olivia was able to secure a rental that was warm and healthy, in a neighbourhood where she felt safer and there was a good school for her son to attend. There is also a backyard for her children to play and a vegetable garden.

Olivia was on track to gain her restricted driving licence; however, she was struggling. After Alannah questioned whether Olivia’s eyesight might be causing the problems, Alannah obtained a grant from the Ministry of Social Development to provide Olivia with glasses. Now she can see clearly, her self-confidence has improved considerably.

Now that Olivia has a warm, healthy home, her children’s health has improved and they are back attending preschool so she can concentrate on her future. Olivia has been accepted into a Pre-Health course, which is due to start in 2023. Alannah says, "I'm so proud of the amazing progress Olivia has made and confident she, and her children, will have a bright future."

Youth Service

Youth service may be able to help if a young person is aged between 16 and 19, has dependent children and/or needs financial assistance.

The team can advocate for the needs of a young person, making sure they receive the help they are entitled to. They offer support with:

  • Completing a Young Parent Payment application
  • Better managing finances
  • Assessing and accessing education
  • Staying healthy and well
  • Being a good parent

For more information about Youth Service, please call 0800 477 874, or visit here.

Will you help?

Olivia is making amazing progress thanks in part to Youth Service coach Alannah. Will you consider donating today to help other young people like Olivia? Thank you.

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