Tararua REAP is back in business dealing with the public after the Covid-19 lockdown. It will start running one-to-one and small group activities from March 18. Courses are beginning to be planned.
Tararua REAP staff operated remotely from home during the lockdown providing essential support for locals but the building was shut.
Now it opens as two buildings after renting the iconic blue building next door at 17 Gordon St to expand its capability.
The move followed a successful 2019, highlighted in general manager Claire Chapman's annual report in which she says:
"The expression that an organisation is the sum of all parts has never been as true as for Tararua REAP in 2019. Building connections and trust with the Tararua community is a goal we worked hard on in 2019.
This was done by engaging in and supporting a number of community-based events including but not limited to:
• Take it to the Street run by Tararua Youth Services.
• Tararua District Expo organised by Women's Division.
• Whānau Ora Festival coordinated by Rangitane.
• Matariki celebration hosted by Ngāti Kahungunu.
"Through these events we have been able to network and inform people about support Tararua REAP can offer. The work we do is only beneficial if it is accessible and fit for purpose, and the results can be seen in our over-achievement for all contracts through-out the year."
Speaking about the blue building's role in the expansion of services, she said:
"The rural community of Tararua has a high percentage of vulnerable people that need support and this need continues to increase. Around 42 per cent of people in the Tararua District live in areas designated as being among the most deprived in New Zealand. Many people struggle to find the appropriate support or resist meaningful engagement with social services.
"No. 17 will provide a comfortable, non-threatening, non-clinical, homely, private but neutral spaces for social service providers and community service providers to meet with our community's whanau and individuals."
"This will include much needed meeting/office spaces for social service providers who are contracted to service our community, but don't have or can't obtain permanent spaces in our community as well, such as Women's Refuge and MASH Trust (supporting people with mental health conditions and alcohol and addiction struggles).
"The location of the building will encourage more face to face connections for our external providers with our local service providers (such as Te Kete Hauora (Rangitane), Police, Tararua Family Services, Tararua Community Youth Services etc) and therefore build stronger professional relationships and referral processes which in turn will benefit the people of our community.
"It will also be a place where real community spirit is felt with shared communal facilities, encouraging informal discussion; a large foyer, displaying community activities; and a central space, for local and external service providers and community members to meet/connect/collaborate for those less formal but often more productive conversations."
As well as the building change there has been significant staffing and management change.
During 2019, Tararua REAP lost ACE coordinator Alice Jonathan, front desk receptionist Lovey Jonathan, Cathy Scott and Sarah Rowe.
Tararua REAP gained Haley Butcher, who joined in April as parenting and whānau support co-ordinator, Rose Bertram (early childhood co-ordinator), Rebekah Charlton and Lynley Densham, who all joined towards the end of the year.
During the AGM the board was re-elected. In the following first board meeting long-serving chairman Stephen Paewai resigned as chairman while continuing on the board. He will be replaced by Wendy Lansdown, who has served on the board for a number of years. Elizabeth Gunson continues as deputy chairperson.
Summarising the blue building extension, Claire says: "By proactively increasing the opportunities for social service cohesion and collaboration, social inclusion and service provision, Tararua REAP aim to further strengthening community partnerships, cohesiveness and integration of service delivery and provision through this new project."