A drop-in centre for friendship, a cuppa and a chat has opened in Whangamata.

Initiated by Wellness of Whanga, the centre is about locals supporting locals who have experienced feelings of being overwhelmed or loneliness.

Founder Lynette Franken says the space is a safe, supportive, non-judgmental place where people can talk with others.

An intuitive person, Lynette says she came to realise people in Whangamata needed somewhere to "feel heard".

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"It all happened within just eight weeks," she says.

Volunteers are welcomed.

"All they need is life experience. As long as they come from a caring heart, they can help," says Lynette.

Already there are several, like Romilly Brickell, who've committed to lending a listening ear.

"We arrived just before the night of lockdown and the very first person I spoke to on the street told me of the horrendous [past] suicide rate here in Whangamata and then I saw a notice on the noticeboard for people to get together and address the issue. I thought this isn't coincidental.

"I'm retired, I've got skills now, I can help and it's time to get out of my comfort zone."

Jaime Cox says she also wanted to give a little time to help others.

"We're aware there's quite a lot of suffering in town so if there's anything we can do to support someone, in even the tiniest amount, we're here."

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Cornerstone House is centrally located behind the Challenge service station in Whangamata and a warm, inviting place with tea and coffee making facilities.

Clio Meyer says decisions over the goals of the group "flowed" from the beginning and volunteers come from all walks of life.

"It's just simple and very open. We don't promise heaps but it's a base that we can offer. It's like an open heart."

For others in the district, Waihi Community Resource Centre and Manaaki Mental Health Service based at Paeroa are go-to agencies, and for elderly struggling with loneliness, other places that can help are Age Concern, Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul.

'Waihi Beach A Friends Place', both the RSAs, Grey Power and Hauraki Women's Welfare League are also great for those needing friendship.

The Tairua Social Services booklet is compiled by the local residents and ratepayers association. The Tairua Information Centre has copies available in 2 Manaia Rd.

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The Whangamata Community Services Trust at 505 Port Rd is another place in town where people can find support. The trust offers counselling, social work and youth facilitation, youth mentoring, financial mentoring (budgeting advice), medical transport, community food bank, parent education programmes, family violence support and counselling, strengthening families, senior concern, room/van hire, general service, advice and guidance for other support agencies.

Where: Cornerstone House
When: Tuesdays and Saturdays 9am-11am
Information: Wellness of Whanga on Facebook or come along.

WHERE TO GET HELP:

• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
•Youth services: (06) 3555 906
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• Helpline: 1737

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.