A wellness hub at Linden Estate’s Valley d’Vine restaurant will provide free mental health support to those in Hawke’s Bay struggling with the ongoing psychological effects of Cyclone Gabrielle.
The new initiative has been set up by mental health advocate and I Am Hope founder Mike King and Linden Estate owner Greg Miller.
Set up in the vineyard’s restaurant, the centre will house four counsellors and one GP who will be able available to children, teenagers, adults and families.
“We are badly flood-damaged and we are unable to use the on-site Valley d’Vine restaurant for business,” said Miller.
“But we can use it as a makeshift community wellness hub. A local logging company has donated a generator to keep the lights on.”
King said that when he managed to get hold of Miller to ask what was needed to assist the region, Miller replied with “counselling”.
He had seen first-hand the devastation in Esk Valley from Linden Estate and told the story of a man who was rescued on the day of the 14th.
“The guy said, ‘I’ve heard you’ve got Mike coming. I can’t wait to talk to people because I prayed for my life that night and I’m haunted by the sound of water’.”
King said as the recovery efforts continue, many people will start to become affected in many different ways.
“The physical damage can be repaired, it’s the invisible s**t that no one sees that’s going to be the big one.”
The medical and counsellor team based at the site is working on a volunteer basis. Members have taken annual leave for two weeks, something King and Miller said they were incredibly grateful for.
“This isn’t a two-week operation. This is going to be a three-month minimum, and we’re hoping this can create a template for other regions.”
“We teamed up with local heroes, known and unknown, who have rolled up their sleeves and said ‘let’s help how we can with what we’ve got’. We are absolutely floored by the support of Kiwis looking after Kiwis.”
King reinforced that besides trauma response, assistance from the wider Napier community was also needed for rural settlements.
“What they need is your time. They need to know that the community is there. Even if you can’t shovel or provide money or food, come to these centres and greet people and let them know that they aren’t alone.”