Vodafone NZ Foundation announces largest ever charitable grant

The Vodafone NZ Foundation has announced its largest ever charitable grant of $700,000 - to Zeal.

The grant will be used to scale up Zeal’s Online Crisis Intervention programme which will allow them to save more lives.

This is part of the Vodafone Foundation’s commitment to halving the number of excluded and disadvantaged youth by 2027.

Lani Evans, head of the Vodafone NZ Foundation, says this partnership is even more important at a time when the latest mental health research reveals shocking statistics for Kiwi youth.

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NZ's suicide rate is the worst in the developed world... It’s absolutely tragic, and we want to do everything we can to help our rangatahiLani Evans, Vodafone NZ Foundation

New Zealand’s suicide rate is the worst in the developed world, with the highest number of suicides in the 20-24 year old group. It’s absolutely tragic, and we want to do everything we can to help our rangatahi,” says Evans, in a statement.

“The latest research shows one in four young people are online almost constantly and often see others post about mental health crises online.

She says Vodafone started a partnership with Zeal in 2016 to test an innovative idea that provides support to young people in crisis in a format that is relevant to them.

“Since the inception of this idea, we’ve provided Zeal with financial support, as well as technical expertise and volunteer time,” says Evans.

Zeal’s solution, which is called Online Crisis Intervention, reaches out to young people in crisis online and provides meaningful, interpersonal support, helping them get to a better place and in some occasions has even saved lives.

The partnership also plays an important role in the Vodafone Foundation’s 10-year strategy to use technology to create better outcomes for rangatahi and save lives through innovative, scalable solutions.

Elliot Taylor, general manager of Zeal and director of online crisis intervention, explains how the grant will help save more lives.

“The Online Crisis Intervention programme is a global first. Our vision is to get help to every young person in crisis online. Thanks to the Vodafone Foundation’s support, we have the opportunity to turn this dream into a reality and to ensure all young people receive support when and where they need it.

“Our team of volunteers is trained to respond to young people and offer care and support. They are currently live 21 hours a week and have 8 conversations a day. Our aspiration is to provide a 24 hour service and respond to all young people within 5 minutes,” says Taylor.

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