Busiest December yet for Jigsaw

Jigsaw Central Lakes, a non-profit service which helps those affected by abuse and offers family support, has had its busiest December to date.

Manager Tina Mongston said 79 clients were seen last month, compared with 53 the previous December.

Most of the clients were seen for family incidents, which included cases of physical violence and psychological and emotional abuse, though separations and potential separations also featured strongly, Ms Mongston said.

The service was seeing a consistent number of people suffering financial pressure.

''Financial pressures are consistently coming through and that's been in place for a while.

''I think what that means is families just don't seem to be getting on top of it.''

In particular, a big issue was families who were not used to living on minimal finances, she said.

''When you have got families who are used to a certain lifestyle and suddenly they can't have this and that ... it's quite a big adjustment.

''You literally have to change your lifestyle.''

Queenstown was an area where people could often forget others were living in financial hardship, she said.

Of the 79 clients, 30 were from Queenstown, 30 from Alexandra, 10 from Cromwell and nine from Wanaka.

From July 1, 2011, until June 30, 2012, Jigsaw Central Lakes saw 835 clients, while from July 1, 2012, until December 31, 2012, 439 clients had been seen. Jigsaw Central Lakes had ''put a lot of effort'' into acquiring skills and resources to help men, and since it evolved from a female-only support service the number of males seen was increasing, Ms Mongston said.

However, 62 of the 79 clients for December were female.

Offering assistance to men meant Jigsaw could work with whole families, which often achieved positive results, Ms Mongston said.

''The male side of things is good ... Each year it sort of develops.''

''For the first 15 years it was solely based around women.''

She was also pleased to report an increasing number of self-referrals, saying this showed people were recognising when they needed help.

''Most of our referrals come through police. However, we are getting a lot of self-referrals and that's a really positive change.''

Ms Mongston credited media exposure of issues such as domestic violence and possibly the name change from the Wakatipu Abuse Prevention Network a number of years ago for the increase in self-referrals.

''Just not having that abuse in the name, there could be various things ... the national campaigns and being part of Jigsaw, which is a national body, so if anyone was on the Jigsaw website they are able to click on to [the Central Otago details].''