A spike in the number of people seen in relation to legal
highs has been experienced by Jigsaw Central Lakes, a
non-profit agency which helps those affected by family
Last year, legal-high laws came into effect, after which the
number of clients dropped, Jigsaw team leader Fi Young said.
However, a recent trend which had ''come up in the last few
months was the impact of legal highs''.
Usually, the agency saw young men who had become aggressive
after taking the highs, Ms Young said.
''It spiked just before they took those products off the
market, then it dropped for a while; then the last couple of
months we seem to have had a few [people] through.
''I'm not sure if it's a new product that's kicked it up
The aggression in the young men could sometimes result in
Ms Young said a big part of the centre's work was helping
people work through psychological and emotional abuse but
this could also eventuate in physical incidents which was
''another trend that we've noticed over the past three
''We have had quite a number of [referrals over] serious
Helping families deal with the separation of parents was also
a common reason for people to seek help from the agency.
Jigsaw covers Queenstown, Wanaka, Cromwell, Alexandra,
Glenorchy, Kingston, Roxburgh and Ranfurly.
The majority of people helped are referred by the police,
with self-referrals accounting for the second-highest
From July 2012 to July 2013, Jigsaw recorded 906 referrals
compared with 835 for the previous year.
Since July last year there have been 437 referrals compared
with 439 for the corresponding period the previous year.
In January 2013, the Queenstown Times reported Jigsaw had
recorded its busiest December to date.
Ms Young said December 2013 was slightly busier and this
month was on track to match or have a higher number of
referrals than January 2013.
Some of the referrals could be ''a simple call for
information'' and the number recorded covers all the services
January was in the middle of the busiest three months of the
year for the agency.
Queenstown was, Ms Young said, just like any other town in
New Zealand with a wide range of different incomes but ''the
perception that everybody can afford to live here is
''We're still seeing a lot of financial stress within
families. I don't think it's particular to Queenstown but
obviously it's harder to survive in Queenstown and especially
when couples or families break up it's really difficult to
survive and bring up kids on a solo income.''
As a result, the centre was calling on the Salvation Army
more to provide food hampers for some clients.
The agency was seeing less of a link with alcohol and family
violence, which could be connected to financial reasons.