The general manager of Whangārei Youth Space says if its doors close the young people who go there will have nowhere to go.

That's why the board is "working furiously" to get more funding so it can continue operating beyond 2021.

"If we shut the door, the young people who come here will have nowhere to go. It's much easier to keep it going than to shut it down and to shift the costs somewhere else," general manager Bernie Burrell said.

The future of WYS was in doubt earlier this year as two significant investments from Foundation North and the Vodafone New Zealand Foundation came to an end.


The Foundation North funding was a $2 million grant from October 2013 to September this year. It was front-loaded to support WYS start up from scratch and the first lot of funding was about $757,000. It then reduced each year.

The NZ Foundation supported WYS with a $307,450 grant which has been paid out over three years.

Burrell said Foundation North has since agreed to continue supporting the space with $100,000 of funding each year for the next three years, which should help WYS keep the doors open until 2021.

However, it will be operating at a deficit of about $220,000 next year so more funding is needed.

"That means for next year we're going to spend more than we have coming in ... we can't carry on doing that."

Burrell said the board had been able to approve operating at a deficit knowing there was a concentrated effort on changing that funding situation. For example the space has launched several initiatives this year which they hope funders will see value in.

Earlier this year the first WYSTalks was held and Youth Minister Peeni Henare and Children's Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft spoke, while young people shared their stories; WYS has also run a pilot programme placing two of its youth workers in schools; and WYS surveyed the community on what they thought was important for youth in Whangārei, with respondents indicating it was mentoring.

"We're hoping that through some of those initiatives we've run this year — which is really discovering the value of that independent youth worker mentoring; the value of pastoral care; and the value of having a youth worker, that really gets youth, working alongside a young person in a positive way — will be recognised through some of the funders," she said.


In addition to the space being a safe place for youth to hang out, there is also a health clinic at WYS which allows youth space members access to free health support.

Burrell said WYS has a set amount of reserves which can be used to pay the bills if it had to close the doors. But she is hoping it won't get to that point.

"This is a place that young people have chosen to make their own, they created it originally when they went to council and said, 'hey, we want to be part of a solution', and the young people we get here interacting together, their paths wouldn't cross anywhere else in the community."