Breaking the silence - information, hope and healing after abortion

  Update Message 

May 2018

Chairperson's Message


I have been in the position of Chairperson to the P.A.T.H.S. Trust for over a year now. A year on and we have made some great progress being in a far stronger position financially having simplified and retained core business focus.

We are proud of our development of the P.A.T.H.S. leaflet for men.

We now also have our counsellor listings available on our website so clients can choose counsellors directly. We have also continued our education and training programme throughout the year.

We are the voice of women and men impacted after abortion, and a safe place of support and a guide for professionals working in various roles with them.

P.A.T.H.S. is an organisation that I am personally passionate about and I am proud to have the privilege of being involved in various ways over the years.

One of the unique aspects of supporting people around the baby loss of post abortion is building rapport and trust in the first instance, so that potential clients know that P.A.T.H.S. is a safe, compassionate, non-judgmental place to come for support and help.

Our strong focus for 2018 will be to attract new Trust members hopefully with some diverse skills and talents.

We will be looking at diversifying our focus particularly toward youth. In this vein we will be looking to get funding to bring our website up to date so it is able to be accessed on people’s cell phones. It will also extend the focus and accessibility to youth and offer coping strategies that people can implement immediately.

We will also be looking at funding to pay an administrator and funding person as the reality becomes clear that in a voluntary capacity with the reality of needing to earn a living and the responsibility to family, some of these roles being paid would assist us greatly in keeping the volunteer aspects of P.A.T.H.S. work supported and manageable in a real-world sense.

I would like to thank my fellow Trust member Averil Ewart-Jones for all the work she has done during the past year. I especially appreciate her partnership in completing funding applications with me. I appreciate Averil’s professionalism, her clarity and organised approach to this task. As people-focused people this does not come so naturally to either of us. It has been a real team effort and I appreciate Averil’s input and commitment to this important aspect of the P.A.T.H.S. Trust’s work. I also value Averil’s input into Trust business taking this role very seriously she makes sure that we are doing things with integrity and that our decisions on behalf of the Trust are informed ones. In addition, I acknowledge Averil’s work as our Prayer Network Coordinator.

I would also like to acknowledge the ongoing commitment from Gaye White on the P.A.T.H.S. Trust. We value your experience and your work for us. Without you and your commitment to P.A.T.H.S. Gaye we would not have a Trust so we greatly appreciate your support and commitment.

Thanks, is also extended to our treasurer Phil Gnad for his steadfast, committed efforts to this role. Always accurate, clear, thorough and providing financial information as it is needed for whatever purpose the Trust needs. We greatly appreciate you Phil.

To Carolina Gnad our Training and Education Coordinator and founder of P.A.T.H.S. I would also like to acknowledge your steadfast involvement and the warm way you support us in all our roles. Carolina, you are the true heart of P.A.T.H.S. and you carry much of the load of what is required to have a functioning organisation. We truly appreciate all that you do and all that you are to all of us. Your compassion, integrity and heart are greatly appreciated by us all.

Special thanks, also goes to Chrissie Burrows who has looked after the phone and emails when called upon to do so. Chrissie, you have done this in a supportive helpful way to all of us and we greatly appreciate all that you do for P.A.T.H.S.

Thanks also to Vic Turner who has taken on the volunteer role of coordinating the P.A.T.H.S. FaceBook pages.

Thank you also to everyone that supports P.A.T.H.S. our volunteers, our prayer Network, funders, donors, our PCP’s, friends of P.A.T.H.S. and our clients.

Our core functions as always are counselling hurting people around their baby loss due to termination; related baby losses; and training and education within our community around the unique grief and trauma which people experiencing such a loss and we look forward to continuing this during the coming year.

We continue to look out for talented and passionate people to volunteer as Trust members and volunteers in key roles (and hopefully in time some paid positions also). We hope that everyone involved in P.A.T.H.S. work get something satisfying in doing work associated with supporting our unique role in the community we serve.

To anyone out there thinking about offering your services to us we are a friendly, supportive bunch. We pride ourselves in having Christian values as an organisation, with a person centred professional approach. Within P.A.T.H.S. your unique talents will be celebrated and you will find a unique opportunity for you to stretch, grow and learn.

We need people with a range of skills and experience, willing to contribute to this valuable work. Please consider making contact and talking with us if you think you can help.

I look forward to the year ahead with faith and trust that all we need will come and I thank you all for your support.

Warm thoughts
Karen Holmes


If you have time and energy to give, and want to make a difference, we would like to hear from you. At the moment all our roles are voluntary. This could change as funding becomes available.. We are looking for a diversity or ages (from retired to youth), and a wide range of expertise. Come join our wonderful team!

In order for P.A.T.H.S. to continue its vital work we desperately need people with a heart and skills in the areas of:

• Administration

• Co-ordination • Funding

• Treasurer

• Trustees

• Website and Technology

The more people we have the more we spread the load and the more we can do.

We are strong at the heart and we have a small solid core of committed caring individuals who hold the mission and vision of P.A.T.H.S. and are working to ensure the services we provide can continue.

The credibility of the service is in that each person who connects with us and receives support is benefited somehow and is grateful. We have a professionalism that we value and we provide a unique service.

Please contact Karen or Carolina by emailing admin@postabortionpaths.org.nz for more information or if you can help, with these roles.

Decisions will need to be made by the year’s end as to the future of P.A.T.H.S. if roles are not filled.

Excerpts from Annual Co-ordination Report

This last year has been a challenging one with reestablishing the Trust and P.A.T.H.S. becoming viable again. The lack of human resources has impacted some of our outreach ability. Keeping the profile of P.A.T.H.S. raised in the community takes constant effort and work but we have been spread thin.

We are pleased that we have effectively managed to keep our core services of support and counselling, and education and training operating. This is due to the commitment of a core group of volunteers.

Numbers of people accessing help has been steady. The 0800 free phone service continues to be available, offering direct support with a trained P.A.T.H.S. Counsellor. Email support has been provided for some who prefer to not have to meet with someone.

We recruited two counsellors to be administrators and facilitators of the private Facebook Group. They will also manage the P.A.T.H.S. Facebook Front Page to try to boost our profile.

Other multi media approaches are being considered to open the way for particularly younger people to connect with support.

We have received a few referrals locally in Christchurch from Christchurch Women’s Hospital and other agencies in the past year. This is heartening as we endeavor to build those relationships.

One of the key issues for clients seeking counselling after a perinatal loss, especially termination/abortion, is the high degree of vulnerability they feel. The courage to reach out for help and the fear of exposure can be a real challenge. P.A.T.H.S. provides a unique service that meets those affected by a recent or past termination/ abortion, or other perinatal losses, in a safe environment, with trained, skilled, professional workers who belong to a professional body of practice.

P.A.T.H.S. Counselling Partner (PCP) Network

The PCP network continues to provide support across the country. Streamlining the process for clients to access help through the PCP weblistings is developing and has had some success.

The initial uptake of PCP weblistings has been good and covers most main centres. The intention is to continue to grow the weblistings to enable wider coverage and easier access for clients. This is an essential service and part of our core business, and so we are offering the listings free or by koha to our PCP network meantime. The weblistings are also a cost effective way of providing direct access to help.


Sometimes clients have availed themselves of counselling elsewhere which has not met their needs. Others who come months, years or decades later, often engage in the healing programme more fully. A number of women with other perinatal losses have also been linked in with counsellors successfully.

One of the biggest difficulties is those in remote areas who struggle to be able to connect in for face-to-face counselling. Phone and email support is offered, however Skype support/counselling will enhance access for those in remote areas.

51 clients received direct help from the service in the last year compared to 58 in the previous year. There were approximately 160 contact sessions.

A good proportion of clients accessing the service in the past year have had recent terminations/abortions and most have come through the website. These clients do not engage in longer term counselling. They are often still fragile after their experience. Their need is invariably to restore stability and return to life. The door remains open for them to return for help later down the track should they need to.

The slight decline in numbers this past year we believe is largely due to our lack of marketing and promoting of P.A.T.H.S. in the community,. This inability to raise the profile of P.A.T.H.S. means we are not getting those clients who would engage in longer term therapy either.

Another hindrance for clients coming for counselling support is the reality of needing to pay fees for professional counselling. Some do not engage once they know there is a fee involved, others struggle with even a basic amount. P.A.T.H.S. is looking at ways to raise money to supplement payments for PCPs where clients cannot afford to pay. We were fortunate to have some funds available this year to supplement counselling fees.

Often the process of applying to WINZ is also too much for clients if they are in a vulnerable state. This year one of our counsellors accompanied a client to WINZ to try to sort her Disability Allowance entitlement, and once approved it was minimal, and nowhere near covered the cost. A small topup was provided by P.A.T.H.S. to ensure the client could be seen.

The reality of fronting up to WINZ or elsewhere is often offputting and can feel exposing. Clients who have had abortions/terminations often carry a sense of stigma and shame and the desire for secrecy can be huge and prevent them from wanting to connect or be seen to be connecting for support. This work requires real discretion even and especially around other community services or agencies becoming involved.

Connect Group

Has been on hold this last year.

Emails, Phone Calls, Social Media

The use of the free 0800 phone number and email contact has continued to be well utilised. A greater proportion of clients are younger and this is raising some discussion as to how we might better respond to this client group in the initial stages of support.

The Facebook front page has been useful for those wanting support and messaging through this medium . And the Facebook Support Group continues to provide a place of emotional holding and support meeting clients’ immediate needs. The group now has 34 members.

The Facebook Support Group helps to break down barriers of isolation around abortion/termination experience and is uniquely helpful as part of the healing process for members. It also means that women in remote areas who may be struggling can benefit from the support offered.

The hope is looking ahead, to develop more user friendly material on our website and include things like video clips and a special area for youth. This is to respond to a growing need for support for young people having abortions/terminations and seeking support soon after.


Two newsletters were created, notifications sent to around 400 people on our database, and a pdf copy of the latest newsletter is made available on the website. Key articles from past newsletters are posted in the articles section under newsletter excerpts as well.

Prayer Network

The prayer network continues to offer spiritual uplifting and support for the Trust and work of P.A.T.H.S. It was managed by Averil from the Board of Trustees this past year.

Presentations / Seminars

Karen presented at ACTIV8 in Auckland in July. ACTIV8 is a training event for young people.

In August Carolina gave a workshop at the PADA seminar in Christchurch, on Past Termination and the Effects on Subsequent Pregnancy. Carolina also wrote an article for inclusion in a PADA publication for health professionals around this topic.

A two day post abortion training seminar was held in Hamilton last year and was very successful.

Carolina gave a talk on the context for abortion and post abortion recovery in September to staff for a new pregnancy centre being set up in the Wairarapa.

Carolina co-presented around post abortion healing at the NZ Medical Conference in Wellington in October.

The Christchurch seminar was small but supported local pastoral care workers and a pregnancy centre as it underwent staff changes and wanted specialised training to offer post abortion support.


Our website is a very important resource. It is the link for those quietly searching for abortion information and connection. It is the most frequent portal of access to the service. Due to the deep and vulnerable nature of post abortion/termination grief and trauma it is often experienced as being a safe avenue of approach. It is private, confidential and non-threatening as someone reaches out for help to someone they don’t yet know.

Unfortunately the system was not set up for us to access data for this past year in terms of website visits. We anticipate numbers to be steady. Phil has activated the new system and so next year we should be able to furnish actual statistics.

The website remains a key entry point for people seeking help and an increasing number of contacts have come through the website this past year as self-referrals.

Looking Ahead

That we have weathered the crisis of last year and are able to continue to function is rather amazing in the current climate when numbers of counselling agencies are folding due to lack of funding.

We are extremely greatful to the volunteers who make it possible for P.A.T.H.S. to continue to operate, and very greatful for all those who contribute through encouragement and financial support.

The need is still there for this service and it is imperative to find ways to reach more people to let them know help is there and that they are not alone.

This remains a specialised area of support and requires all involved to have a particular sensitivity and responsiveness.

Finding ways to continue to expand effectively and economically is important. For that we still need more resources, both financial and people power. Those currently involved are committed but stretched.

This year has been about survival.

For my part I would very much like to be able to focus more on the education and training work, which is my real area of interest and expertise rather than needing to be caught up in the day to day running and administration.

We hope that the coming year will see that shift so that we can grow our capacity to offer more and be more active in the community.

We appreciate the networks of contacts and supports we have that help to sustain us in this work.

- Carolina Gnad (Co-ordinator of education and training, and interim administrator and co-ordinator of services)

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