Our latest annual report talks about the work we’ve done over the past 12 months to protect, educate and support thousands of Kiwi kids and their whānau.

Previous annual reports are also available:

Media releases

Caring for 120 kids brings joy and challenges

10 March 2017

Sharon and Gary Richardson have a family that is 120 strong.

Alongside raising 4 children of their own (including an adopted daughter) the pair have cared for more than 120 children over the past 30 years as Barnardos foster carers in Auckland.

Now, their incredible commitment to the wellbeing of children is being acknowledged with a nomination for an Excellence in Fostering Award as part of Foster Care Awareness Week (March 6-10).

They will join other nominees on Friday 10 March for a special awards ceremony hosted by the Governor-General at Government House in Wellington.

But while the couple are pleased to have official recognition of their efforts, they say the real reward has been helping children when they need it most. “We have found so much joy in each child who has come into our home and love the energy they bring into our lives,” says Sharon.

For children who have been through some really tough times, praise and encouragement does wonders, as do consistent routines and boundaries. “We really thrive on seeing children learn and develop. We get great pleasure from teaching children their times tables and increasing their vocabulary — it’s amazing to be part of their growth.”

Barnardos provides its foster care service in Auckland with around 70 children placed into the homes of carers each year. Placements can be for just a few nights or long–term, depending on the child’s need and their family situation.

Barnardos Chief Executive Jeff Sanders says Sharon and Gary’s nomination for the award is apt given the commitment and passion they have shown over so many years.

“I’m amazed by the sacrifices and selflessness of all Barnardos foster carers,” says Jeff. “Our carers truly enrich the lives of those children who come into their homes — they’re helping ensure Aotearoa’s young people have every chance for a future that’s bright. It’s so pleasing to see that Sharon and Gary’s efforts have been recognised in this way and we’ll eagerly await news from the awards night.”

For more information, contact Barnardos Foster Care Service Manager Nancy Jelavich on (09) 625 3747.

Barnardos increases child helpline capacity following Kaikōura quakes

24 November 2016

Barnardos service 0800 What’s Up, New Zealand’s most accessed counselling helpline for children, has more counsellors available following the November 14 Kaikōura Earthquake and the resulting aftershocks.

The increase follows a number of young callers getting in touch because of the stress and anxiety they’d been feeling since the 7.8 magnitude shake.

“For children in the most affected areas, the trauma of living through such a life-changing event as the Kaikōura earthquake can really turn their lives upside down,” says 0800 What’s Up team leader Lesley Butler. “We’ve already had a number of young people call and chat online with us because they’re scared, having trouble sleeping and feeling uncertain about the future. Our counsellors are able to really help by listening and helping them through this difficult time.”

Helping young people in the aftermath of earthquakes is something the Barnardos team have plenty of experience with. The February 2011 earthquake in Christchurch saw a big increase in calls to 0800 What’s Up, with the earthquake becoming one of the most called–about issues for that year. Counsellors were still taking calls from youngsters two years after the event.

“We know that the effects of living through a large earthquake can last for some time,” says Lesley. “We want children to know that, if they need to talk to someone outside their friends and family, they can call us and speak to a trained counsellor who can support them and help them develop coping strategies to deal with any worries they may be having.”

For further information contact Barnardos Operations Manager, Karen Billings, on (04) 801 1677.

0800 What’s Up counsellors are available to talk or Web Chat 365 days a year. Call free on 0800 WHATSUP (0800 942 8787) from 1pm-10pm Mon-Fri or 3pm-10pm on the weekends. Web Chat is open 5-10pm every day.

Children’s helpline celebrates milestone

29 September 2016

0800 What’s Up, one of New Zealand’s most accessed children’s helplines, has celebrated 15 years of providing support, information and advice to young people.

A service of Barnardos New Zealand, What’s Up took its first calls on 22 September 2001. Since then it has been open for nearly 5,500 consecutive days (including Christmas), has taken many hundreds of thousands of calls and racked up millions of minutes in support of young people.

“15 years is quite a legacy and something we’re very proud of,” says What’s Up Team Leader Lesley Butler. “With us having been around for all that time it’s amazing to think that some of the kids we were talking to back when we started could now have children of their own.”

Lesley has been with the helpline since nearly the beginning and she’s seen a lot of change since 2001.

Indeed, What’s Up are always looking for new ways to connect with and help their young clients. In 2014 they launched a new Web Chat service which proved instantly popular and has already completed thousands of chat sessions.

One thing that hasn’t really changed is the prevalence of bullying as an issue. In 2011 it was the second most frequent issue (behind peer relationships) and today it is the number one problem children call about.

Bullying is a massive issue for many of our callers and with the growing prevalence of online bullying it’s now a bigger problem than ever,” says Lesley. “Being the victim of bullying can be an incredibly lonely and distressing time for a child. When young people are being bullied they can be at a loss as to how to deal with the problem and have nowhere else to turn. It’s really rewarding being here to provide them with ideas and methods to help them through this time.

Other prominent issues for young callers include relationships, sexual activity, self-harm and physical health. Since the very beginning, it’s been What’s Up’s policy that children can call about absolutely anything at all — no problem is too big or small. Kids can even just phone up for a chat.

But there are also moments that are deadly serious for the What’s Up team and every year they receive more than 100 ‘duty of care’ calls, where the caller or someone else is in imminent danger of harm. In these instances, the counsellor will involve emergency services to ensure the young person’s safety.

The job of a What’s Up counsellor can be challenging and often they don’t see the final results of their work and advice, but they always hope for a successful outcome. Sometimes they’ll also receive affirmation of their work that makes it all worthwhile.

“Recently we received a wonderful letter,” says Lesley. “It was from a woman who used our service a decade ago. This was during a particularly hard time of her life where she was battling depression and anxiety. Like all our callers, she was able to regularly talk to the same counsellor about her troubles. Her letter said that the support she received from our counsellor was fundamental to her growth as a person and that she was so grateful for the support and kindness she received. Now she herself is going into a career in social work and counselling — it was so fantastic to know that What’s Up was able to make a difference in her life.”

0800 What’s Up counsellors are available to talk or Web Chat 365 days a year. Call free on 0800 WHATSUP (0800 942 8787) from 1pm-10pm Mon-Fri or 3pm-10pm on the weekends. Web Chat is open 5-10pm every day.

Media enquiries

For all media enquiries, contact Hamish Armstrong, Barnardos Brand Manager on (04) 801 1766 or by email at


Donor newsletters