There are a variety of places in Whangārei for our young people to access support. Yet not all our youth know what's out there and some are not attracted to what's currently available.
This is fair enough, but we need to ask the question: "what do our young people want to see in our community?"
It's funny how we all get carried away sometimes and get caught up in the now, and think we know what's best for others. I often see adults do this with young people. We may wish them the best, but if we were to ask young people directly what's best for them, it means we will find something that works for them which in turn will be more effective.
It's commonsense to me, if you want to do things for young people or with young people, it's always beneficial to listen to their opinions, especially when it's about them. They should have a voice.
Reaching out and speaking with our young people saves time and stress. Instead of bobbling around thinking what can we do, we can empower young people to seek solutions with support from adults.
There are community members who are working hard to find better ways to make space for young people, whether it's through events, safe spaces or even having a korero (chat).
Rallying together to back our young people is key, this is their community too.
The growth at Whangārei Youth Space (WYS) is remarkable, if only we had a bigger space and more services to allow us to open our arms wider to accommodate even more of our young people.
WYS is a safe place for every young person aged 12 to 24 years, and it's wonderful to see local community members pulling together to increase and enhance the safe spaces in Whangārei for our young people to access.
Our community is feeling it quite heavy right now, there's a lot going on to say the least. It's heartwarming to see the support throughout, gathering together, in many events.
It's beautiful to see many people coming together, to seek solutions, find loved ones and to work together. It reminds me of how much I just "love it here".
I was a young person on a panel, invited by our local MP, to be part of a community meeting event in Tikipunga the other weekend. Members of the community, local organisations, police and members of local and central government attended this meeting to raise the issues and concerns in our community at the moment.
Unfortunately, I was the only young person in attendance. It wasn't a friendly environment for us all, yet it was a comfortable space for most to be sitting in.
We heard concerns from organisations which needed more resources. One comment made by the chief police officer, who was on the panel, was: "if you asked every chief officer in NZ if they need more resources they would say yes."
But, having said that, he went on to say that even with limited resources, in the past five years the crime rate had decreased by 5 per cent.
Statistics like this can bring to light what seems like a pretty hectic time for our community.
Other discussions raised during the meeting included that since Covid more people are using social media platforms to share with the community what is going on.
Communication on social media has been an issue for a long time and we continue to see the effects it has on young people, adults and the community. A timely reminder to always be kind.
I feel for those people who are working in the system, who are constantly trying to break down barriers for young people so they can receive the access and support they need.
The system is problematic, and people are constantly being let down by these services.
Young people who are trying to access support are often misinformed about services. This is a massive setback, let's keep working together to find a way forward.
• Anahera Pickering is community outreach co-ordinator at Whangārei Youth Space. She can be contacted at Anahera@youthspace.co.nz .