A bit of the gloss was taken off Citizens Advice Bureau Kapiti's grand opening of its new premises.

The bureau's new office space, upstairs in Coastlands, a corridor away from where it used to be, now offers better visibility, more privacy for clients to discuss confidential issues in private as well as a safer and more open environment for its volunteers, JPs and lawyers.

But at the opening on Wednesday last week chairwoman Sandra Daly said the bureau was "bitterly disappointed to hear that our expression of interest in the social investment programme with Kapiti Coast District Council was unsuccessful and councillors have withdrawn the funding and support we have had for many years".

The bureau had lost $14,000 which was about half of its annual funding.


Kapiti mayor K Gurunathan, who helped cut a ribbon to declare the new office space officially open, said council staff were trying to find alternative funding sources for the bureau and was "quietly confident they will be able to do that".

"Your organisation was among 21 others which didn't succeed.

"There were 32 expressions of interest for a small pot of money [about $345,000]."

He said the bureau, which he noted was special and doing a fantastic job, would feel a sense of betrayal, but pointed out the councillors who had to deal with the funding requests had not made the decisions lightly.

Sandra said, "There is no other organisation doing what we do and as I've heard on a number of occasions if we didn't exist the community would have to invent us.

"Life is really tough out there now for a number of people we see, and for many there is just no other support available for them.

"We recognise and we understand council has to make hard decisions about where our precious ratepayer funds are spent and has many demands on these.

"But it's hard for us to accept that an organisation that has served this community so well and for so long has been cast adrift.

"Despite the setback the bureau would continue to "do everything we possibly can to ensure our service continues to provide the vital help and support we give to so many".

"The spirit of our volunteers is strong and we are committed to the work we do."

Sandra said the bureau had been in Paraparaumu for over 25 years and provided a "unique service free-of-charge to anyone who needs it".

"Our 50 volunteers help more than 3500 people every year with a vast array of queries, problems and difficulties.

"While some of these are straight forward, increasingly we're seeing difficult, complex and in many cases quite distressing and heart-wrenching problems from people who have literally no where else to go.

"While we can't always solve their problems we're often able to steer them in the direction of help and empower them to take the actions needed."

Kapiti Coast District Council is transitioning to a contestable and outcome-focused social investment model for funding community organisations.

Strategy and planning group manager Sarah Stevenson said there was a long history of council supporting community organisations, but funding support, for the most part, has not been strategically focused.

"We have agreed three new strategic priorities for funding — connected communities, safe communities, and a capable sector — and earlier this year we invited organisations that provide community and social services in Kapiti to submit their ideas for initiatives which contribute to these priorities through an expression of interest."

Expressions of interest have now been assessed by an independent evaluation panel and 11 organisations have been invited to progress through to the second stage of the contestable process.

She said council has committed assistance to past recipients of community contracts who are impacted by these changes, many of who have received non-contestable funding for the past 10 years, and is already working alongside to help with tailor-made support packages.

These packages include advice from not-for-profit experts with experience specific to each organisation's needs.

Mr Gurunathan said despite work behind the scenes to help ease the transition to the new funding model current recipients who have not been invited to participate in the second stage of the contestable process may feel betrayed.

"These organisations will continue to receive funding through to June 30 this year and we are committed to doing what we can help them source and secure alternative funding and build capacity.

"This may include looking at options to help bridge the gap through our Long Term Plan process."

Organisations selected to progress through to the second round of the contestable process have been invited to provide detailed proposals for the council to review before the final decision in June.

The following organisations have been invited through the second round of the contestable funding process: Energise Otaki, Maoriland Trust, Kapiti Youth Support, Age Concern, Cobwebs Community Trust, Nga Hapu o Otaki, Challenge for Change, Volunteer Kapiti, Impact Hub, Kapiti Living Without Violence, Kapiti Women's Centre.

The following organisations will continue to receive funding through to June 30 but have not been invited through to the second round of the contestable funding process: Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) — Otaki and Kapiti, Well Able, A Safe Kapiti (ASK), Te Newhanga Community Centre Trust.