Christchurch charity behind healing packs for victims of sexual abuse

Vicki-Anne Parker hopes her charity, NZ Gifts of Love and Strength, can help sexual assault...
Vicki-Anne Parker hopes her charity, NZ Gifts of Love and Strength, can help sexual assault victims. Photo: Supplied
Vicki-Anne Parker wants to open up the taboo conversation of child sexual abuse.

It is a “touchy subject” that people “shy away from” but Parker understands the damage it causes.

"I have had very severe childhood sexual abuse from a very young age . . . and sexual assaults as an adult.

"I am still in weekly counselling to deal with the severity of the abuse I encountered.

"It is about getting the word out, so people know we exist and learn how they can help, how to be involved and how to open the conversation."

To help, Parker’s charity NZ Gifts of Love and Strength, founded in 2019 following the March 15 mosque attacks, has changed focus.

It began by delivering meals and care packages to mosque attack victims and their families, refugees, people recovering from floods and trauma survivors but NZ Gifts of Love and Strength is now operating as the first and only charity in Canterbury to offer healing care packs to youths, aged 13 to 18, affected by sexual harm.

Parker said the charity is a way of “repaying the help” she received after several traumatic experiences, including the loss of her home, her marriage, friends in the CTV building, which collapsed during the February 22, 2011 earthquake, a small house fire and sexual assault.

“Whilst I also struggle with chronic health conditions (Lyme disease), it allows me to have huge empathy for others who have gone through trauma,” said Parker.

“I was told I had to scale back due to my health issues and my doctor agreed that focusing on one key area, where the medical professionals refer to us, would be manageable.”

One of the healing packs. Photo: Supplied
One of the healing packs. Photo: Supplied
The healing packs include a lap blanket, wheat bag, worry worm, pencil case and pencils, handmade lavender hearts, mindfulness books, toiletries, hot chocolate, bars, tissues, bags and lip balms.

They are distributed via the free confidential central city medical service, The Cambridge Clinic.

Said Parker: “The packs are not just for girls but for boys, gender-neutral clients, and the rainbow community.

“While the charity does not take referrals from the general public, we are referred to the youth who have to go through DNA testing or invasive treatments from the clinic.”

Eighty per cent of the packs are handmade by volunteers or donated by the public and every pack is approved by staff at the clinic to help aid youth on their healing journey.

Said Parker: “Some who have made items have health issues, others are survivors of sexual harm, so their contribution means something more personally to them.

“(Some people) have stated they are healing by helping youth in the same situation.”

Vicki-Anne Parker. Photo: Supplied
Vicki-Anne Parker. Photo: Supplied
Parker said the charity does not meet the clients so it is hard to attract funders without direct feedback from the young people.

“But we do via their medical professionals – that it made a huge difference that people care so much about what they’ve been through, some stating what they have received is more than they would get for Christmas or their birthday,” she said.

“It’s not only us that struggle to get our message out ... The Cambridge Clinic, they also struggle.

“This is sad as there is free, confidential help and police don’t have to be involved. Phone them on 03-3660 067, 24/7.”