The I Am Hope Trust has applauded the announcement of government funding for free counselling for children.
The trust will receive $6 million of yearly government support to run the Gumboot Friday initiative, according to founder and comedian Mike Smith, who said he and his team were left gobsmacked by the recent announcement.
“I still haven’t quite gotten my feet back on the ground. It was a huge shock and it was a huge shock to have it announced directly after the coalition agreement was signed.”
The commitment was part of the National-Act and National-NZ First coalition deals released last week and represents a major turnaround in the relationship between King and the government.
King has been highly critical of the Ministry of Health since the inception of Gumboot Friday in 2019, citing cumbersome bureaucracy by the department.
“I’ve never had a battle with the Ministry of Health; it’s been battling with the idea that community group organisations like myself, like Dave Letele’s Butterbean Movement, like the youth trusts up and down the country, small community groups out there, are doing something better and more cost-efficient than them.”
Every cent goes to counsellors
The Gumboot Friday waka has been powered by absolutely bare bones, and nothing much will change with the promise that not a single cent will be spent on operational costs.
“Since its inception in 2019 we have delivered 81,000 sessions to New Zealand kids for $11.6 million. So this $6m will go directly to counsellors.”
King says he couldn’t have done this alone. He employs youth ambassadors and it was at their direction that all government funds should be spent directly on counsellors.
Noah Jones is a youth ambassador, and he says Aoteafoa’s kids are worth it.
“Every cent that we get is going into Gumboot Friday and that’s because it’s something we are so passionate about: getting our kids the help they need and honestly, bro, they deserve it, man. This is such an amazing generation.”