New Conservative believes that healthy families make a healthy nation, and as such is committed to funding much needed parental support.
Over 100 years old, Plunket, known to three generations of women and their families, is a household name that Kiwis trust, an institution where most New Zealand mums were able to gain peace of mind, finding assurance that the new addition to their family was progressing in the ways they should. Every new mum needs that support and reassurance. Plunket has been a resource for mums and families, respite, a safe learning environment where there is no judgment, just a toolbox with compassion but has received minimal government funding.
“It is a no-brainer for us,” says Helen Houghton, New Conservative Co-Leader. “Mums are tired, dads are stressed, the whole family is in turmoil after the reality creeps in – when the new bundle of joy is not sleeping or feeding or gaining weight or is feverish – so many questions that mums and dads have and need assurance and support with, especially when things don’t look like they should in the textbook!”
Parenting is challenging enough for sleep-deprived parents, juggling other household and career responsibilities and managing finances. No access to a sound, informative, nurturing community where they can learn skills to better equip themselves, is an extra challenge they do not need.
As the founding director of a charitable trust supporting women in the home, Helen has provided parents, who want to be the best they can, with support and parenting courses where they have thrived. She knows the opportunity to share experiences in a caring environment is vital for young parents. Not all have access to such services, and cutting funding for Plunket, which does provide such services nationwide, further devalues the family unit and puts children at risk.
Parents are often desperate in those early crucial years. Any number of things can upset a normal birth and throw the whole family into chaos. Sometimes all that is needed is the comfort parents get from a friendly, compassionate, Plunket nurse, and at other times it is a well-resourced and informative kit of parenting ideas that come in handy just at the right time.
It is appalling enough that mothers are sent home from giving birth often on the same day. Young, new mothers, are no longer equipped to go into the world with the necessary rest and recuperation mums used to get before funding was cut for maternity wards. It can be frightening and overwhelming. Adding to that the cut in Plunket support will be the final straw for many parents.
“New Conservative believes we have an obligation to every family to provide the best from the start of a child’s life,” concludes Helen.