Community steps in to fill void left by closure

By Pauline Carney

1 comment
Te Puke MP and Trade Minister Todd McClay, Deborah Nicol, Judy Abrahams, Jeff Orr, Sue and Roger Wilks checked out the former Te Puke RSA building as a possible homeless shelter.
Te Puke MP and Trade Minister Todd McClay, Deborah Nicol, Judy Abrahams, Jeff Orr, Sue and Roger Wilks checked out the former Te Puke RSA building as a possible homeless shelter.

A group of Te Puke people from the town's churches are stepping up to fill the gap left by the closure last week of the Te Puke Community Care Trust.

Local MP Todd McClay met five community representatives yesterday morning and they checked out the interior of the former RSA building, which is on the market.

The group, led by Te Puke Baptist minister Sue Wilks, also included Presbyterian church member Judy Abrahams, social worker Deborah Nicol, Vincent House manager Jeff Orr and Roger Wilks. They were setting up a charitable trust named Empowerment NZ.

Mrs Wilks said concerned people wanted to collaborate to help provide for needy people in Te Puke.

A group was feeding homeless people every Saturday night and the number of recipients had grown to about 30, she said.

Knowing the former RSA building was for sale, Mrs Wilks said the group had a dream to open it as a homeless shelter.

The building's commercial kitchen would be a great help for those feeding homeless people, she said.

The building could also serve as a hub for community service, she said, where people could go during the day to access services.

Mrs Abrahams said allowing people to sleep overnight would not require anything too fancy. A stretcher and a bed roll was what she envisioned, she said.

However, Mr McClay suggested the group needed to check how other communities around the Bay ran their homeless shelters.

Mr McClay thanked the group for picking up the food bank service, which would operate from the former community hub office on Commerce Lane.

He said the Ministry of Social Development and Work and Income were working to set up a budgeting service and welfare counselling service - both of which closed when the community care office closed last Friday.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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