Social services hub opens doors

By alisa.yong@age.co.nz -
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NEW HUB: Carolyn McKenzie says a new social services hub  will help struggling people get  on their feet. PHOTO/FILE
NEW HUB: Carolyn McKenzie says a new social services hub will help struggling people get on their feet. PHOTO/FILE

A "one-stop shop" designed to improve access to social service providers for people living south of Masterton is being launched next week.

Carterton District Council is leasing the police house near the clock tower, so agencies such as IRD, probation, CareNZ, Workwise, Pathways, Hauora, Whaiora, community law, the courts and the Wairarapa Free Budget Advisory Service can offer appointments to clients who might find it difficult to travel to Masterton.

The social services hub, which is to be officially opened on Monday, has been named Haumanu House, haumanu meaning to revive, restore to health or rejuvenate.

The council's community development manager, Carolyn McKenzie, said making it more convenient to get to appointments would make life easier for those struggling to get back on their feet. "It's exciting that so many agencies are wanting to make access to their services easier for all Wairarapa people, and everybody is keen to see this enable the agencies to work together.

I'm excited about how this could make the lives of people who are struggling, and trying to manage multiple appointments, better and hopefully take a little bit of the stress out."

While Masterton was not far for people with a valid driver's licence, and a warranted and registered car, "it's a really bloody long way if you don't have any or all of those things", Ms McKenzie said. "It won't mean travelling to Masterton and time away from work, so hopefully that can have a positive impact - and it's good to see the agencies wanting to reach out."

Missing appointments could create a "vicious cycle" where warrants were issued and benefits cut, she said. "It's impacting their ability to be members of their community for simple reasons of it being difficult to access services."

The hub was designed to help those who were trying to move forward with their lives and get out of the "system", she said.

"It's not for the critically unwell and high-risk, or the people who are choosing to be in the system. What it is for is for those people trying to work or get their life back together and they are on the cusp."

Previously a Senior Sergeant with the Masterton police, Ms McKenzie said her time on the police force had helped inspire the idea of the hub.

"While I was a police officer, I saw people really struggling to get out of the hamster wheel - they are trying to manage multiple appointments with multiple agencies. If this can in any way get people back into employment and participating in the world, then that's a good thing."

Mayor John Booth said the hub was a wonderful initiative for Carterton. "It's bringing together all these groups under one roof and that makes a lot of sense."

Ms McKenzie said paint left over from the Events Centre had been used to repaint the house and furniture had been donated by some of the agencies involved, although they were still seeking a small fridge. Slots were still available for other providers.

Those interested in booking their appointments at Haumanu House were encouraged to contact the relevant agency.

- Haumanu House will be officially opened on Monday, May 2 at 10am by Mayor John Booth.

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