Each year, students at Marton's Nga Tawa School undertake service as part of their special character school ethos – it's one of the key ways they express their Anglican faith and school values. This is often in support of a number of charities, but 2017's leadership group decided they'd like to form a relationship with a particular charity that aligns with their values and support them for the entire year. Head of Chapel and Service, Eden Aschebrock, and her Year 13 members of the student council put the wheels in motion to meet with their local Women's Refuge branch –Women's Refuge Whanganui.
Women's Refuge promotes leadership that influences the prevention and elimination of domestic violence in the Whanganui region. Their staff and volunteers work hard to provide safe spaces, advocate for safe home for families, encourage safe change and most of all respect and validate women's stories, experiences, decision-making and strengths. Staff at Women's Refuge Whanganui were able to inform the girls of their focus areas and most importantly, how they can help and what they may need. Sanitary items and teenage girl clothes were high on the agenda, cementing Eden's decision to support them.
"Teenage girl clothes were something we had an abundance of. Not only could we donate clothing but any designer brand clothing we gifted was able to be sold at Women's Refuge market stalls for a profit," said Eden.
Nga Tawa and Women's Refuge Whanganui have created a fantastic collaborative relationship. Women's Refuge staff have spoken in Nga Tawa's school assembly and were responsible for introducing the Loves Me Not pastoral programme to Nga Tawa. Resourced by The Sophie Elliott Foundation and NZ Police, Loves-Me-Not uses a whole school approach and a one-day workshop for Year 12 students to explore healthy relationships and the sometimes-difficult subject of relationship abuse and consent.
Nga Tawa students have had a busy year supporting Women's Refuge Whanganui, organising one fundraiser per term. They raised funds at a school mufti day at the beginning of the year. In association with wacky tie day the girls collected three big boxes of sanitary items to donate. They delivered 20 boxes of clothing from their clothes drive and this term the Year 9 and 10 students at Nga Tawa have been busy putting together Christmas gifts and cards to help make someone else's Christmas this year.
After a rewarding year, Nga Tawa and Whanganui Women's Refuge hope to build on their relationship next year and into the future.