Financial boost for quake families

QUAKE-bereaved families in Christchurch have been given a financial boost, with 185 families granted $10,000 each from the Red Cross.

The New Zealand Red Cross Earthquake Commission on Monday confirmed the move, which comes on top of an initial $10,000 payment to families who lost loved ones in the killer February 22, 2011 earthquake.

The money came as a surprise to the families, said Quake Families group spokesman Brian Kennedy.

Mr Kennedy, who lost his wife Faye in CTV Building's collapse, said it was an "unexpected but welcome boost".

"I didn't see it coming. It is very generous on the Red Cross' behalf.

"The majority of families will put it to a very good cause, I'm sure."

Commission head Sir John Hansen said many of those who donated to the Earthquake Appeal gave money to help the families of those killed and injured.

"As well as dealing with damaged homes and ongoing aftershocks like many other Cantabrians, this group of people is also having to contend with the emotional and practical implications of losing a loved one.

"Feedback we have received indicates many are still struggling financially, especially those who have been left as the sole parent."

Last year 186 families received the bereaved person's grant.

Red Cross is also giving more help to 23 people most seriously injured in the earthquakes, after an initial payment last year of $7500.

In total almost $68 million in grants has been distributed to 77,308 people.

More than $115 million has been raised to date by the New Zealand Red Cross from the September and February earthquake appeals, including $14 million donated from overseas for specific purposes such as the long term recovery of Christchurch.

The remaining $33 million is earmarked for grants which are still open.

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