A substantial $105,000 grant from BayTrust will give some financial certainty to Katikati Community Centre as it continues to expand its programmes and support for local residents.
The multi-year funding grant ($35,000 each year for three years) is being warmly welcomed by the centre's accounts and administration officer, Sally Goodyear, and centre manager Pauli Surtees.
"The advantage of multi-year funding is it gives us the security of knowing we have three years of grants ahead so we can plan a little bit better," Goodyear says.
"It's a good chunk of money and the great thing about it is, it's not tagged so we can spend it where we need to – which for us is on operational costs like wages, administration and overheads such as electricity and water. It is a big benefit for us and we're most grateful to have BayTrust's ongoing support."
In the past 12 months alone, growing demand for the centre's services has seen staff almost double from six to 11 positions thanks to funding from government agencies and a range of other sources.
A new Community Connector role has been established post-Covid in response to the increased need for social work services, while counselling of all sorts is also highly sought-after. A new Employment Youth Coach has also been appointed to work one-on-one with youth and employers.
"Our new Community Connector, Angela, is here to help people with any kind of challenges that life throws at them," Goodyear says.
"They might need help with Work and Income or other government agencies, help with job seeking, accommodation support, learning opportunities, counselling, foodbank referrals, budgeting … all that kind of thing. It's a pretty big role.
"She can give them that wraparound support whereas before, people would come in with their problems and ask a question, and we would refer them to the foodbank or Alcoholics Anonymous or Budget Advice or whoever was appropriate. But we had no follow-up to see if they actually contacted them or if they received the help they needed."
People often come in seeking advice on one specific issue, but it soon emerges they need assistance with several different things.
"While employing a Community Connector wasn't on the horizon 12 months ago, Goodyear says things have "just snowballed … it's more about just being able to respond to the demand".
The centre's after-school care, holiday programmes and adult education classes are always well-attended and the weekly Wise and Wonderful sessions for senior citizens are proving so popular that an extra day may soon be added to the schedule.
"We are also working together with Katikati Taiao who are intending to form a Housing Action Group. Social housing is definitely an issue that we're looking at, but there's no easy solution. It's a nationwide problem."
BayTrust CEO Alastair Rhodes says the Katikati Community Centre is very much a "first port of call" for locals who need help with absolutely anything.
"It's remarkable the breadth of support they're able to provide to people of all ages in Katikati. For 25 years the centre has worked tirelessly to identify needs and then plug those gaps so local residents always have somewhere to turn.
"Community wellbeing is a key priority for BayTrust and we're delighted to approve this multi-year grant for the centre whose services, it seems, are needed now, more than ever."
BayTrust works to help strengthen Bay of Plenty communities by providing charitable, cultural, philanthropic, recreational, and other benefits to accelerate bold meaningful change, helping local communities and the environment to flourish.