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Anita Hinton: I Got Your Back Pack: Westfield Local Heroes 2019

Surviving violence to spread ripples of kindness

Inspiring. Passionate. Selfless

In 2015, Anita Hinton escaped domestic violence with her daughter Neia in her arms and nothing else to tide her through.

Later that year, she came up with a way to support others and started putting together essential items in backpacks and giving them to survivors as she was able.

At first, Anita and Neia packed the backpacks themselves and attached a warm, handwritten note to each one. Today, their efforts have grown into a fully-fledged charity, I Got Your Back Pack (IGYBP), which Anita runs from a donated packing station in Silverdale.

All the work is done by volunteers, many of whom are abuse survivors and find the connection and support therapeutic.

Anita describes being voted a Westfield Local Hero as really nice. “The feeling is insane. We give so much time, energy and love across the country, and now we’ve got this sense that, at last, somebody has got our back,” she says.

IGYBP has already distributed more than two thousand packs to women and men escaping domestic violence and in 2019 production has increased to three hundred a month.

The team deliver the backpacks filled with toiletries, snacks, children’s toys and other basic comforts to safe houses and women’s refuges throughout New Zealand.

While her volunteer work is Anita’s passion, she still supports herself and Neia through her job as a cleaner.

Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. I Got Your Back Pack will use the grant primarily to invest in training for its volunteer team.

“This grant will allow us, for the first time, to upskill our volunteers,” says Anita. “To sustain ourselves as a charity, we need more skills in communication and branding.

“The idea is to invest in our team to invest in someone else – that person who’s so full of potential, but escaping from desperate circumstances,” says Anita.

“A stone ripples when you throw it out, and it’s the same with each backpack we put out there.”

__For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here. __

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