Sometimes it’s the littlest things that make a community special – like the free ‘help-yourself-to-produce’ stall; the bike repair stand; the yoga class; the school holiday ‘gloop’ session; or the afternoon board games for seniors.
For over 25 years Katikati Community Centre has been looking after local residents and figuring out ways to help people and make life more enjoyable. Centre spokeswoman Sally Goodyear says good ideas pop up all the time.
“It’s great that we’re small enough that we can just do things,” she says. “Sometimes, like a council for instance, you have to go through such a rigmarole to do anything. We just think ‘oh this would be a good idea’ and so long as we can get funding for it, we just do it.”
The Centre’s latest initiative is a bike stand outside its front door where people can pump up their tyres and do any minor repairs for free. And the weekly ‘Wise and Wonderful’ sessions for senior citizens are proving so popular that an extra day may soon be added to the schedule.
“It’s a social group for elderly people and we do a pickup and drop off service for that every Tuesday afternoon at present. We identified a lot of people are just isolated in their own home because they don't have transport or can’t drive anymore. They want to get out but they just can't. We get between 20 and 30 people come each week to do different activities such as a quiz, bingo or play board games.”
New Staff In Demand
After school care and holiday programmes are a big help for working parents, and a range of adult education classes are always on offer. But the Katikati Community Centre is very much a ‘first port of call’ for locals who need help with absolutely anything.
Demand for counselling and social work services has shot up since COVID-19 first hit our shores, and the Centre has appointed several new positions in the past 12 months including a Community Connector and Employment Youth Coach who is available to work one-on-one with youth and employers.
“Our Community Connector, Angela, is here to help people with any kind of challenges that life throws at them,” Sally explains. “They might need help with Work and Income or other government agencies, help with job seeking, accommodation support, learning opportunities, counselling, Food Bank referrals, budgeting… all that kind of thing. It’s a pretty big role.
“She can give them that wraparound support whereas before, people would come in with their problems and ask a question, and we would refer them to the Food Bank or Alcoholics Anonymous or Budget Advice or whoever was appropriate. But we had no follow up to see if they even actually contacted them or if they received help.”
People often come in seeking advice on one specific issue, but it soon emerges they need assistance with several different things. While employing a Community Connector wasn’t on the horizon 12 months ago, Sally says things have “just snowballed… it’s more about just being able to respond to the demand”.
While Katikati is a thriving and diverse community, there’s underlying issues that aren’t always visible. “There’s a real housing crisis here in Katikati that a lot of people just are not aware of. There are actually homeless people in Katikati which I think a lot of people don’t realise are even there.”
The Centre also has a new Manager, Pauli Surtees, who has many years’ experience working across Government agencies in the housing, justice and education sectors. “She’s got a wealth of experience and I think she’ll be able to really help with solutions around housing; she’s got some good ideas there,” Sally says. “We are working together with Katikati Taiao who are intending to form a Housing Action Group. It’s definitely an issue that we’re looking at, but there’s no easy solution really. It’s a nationwide problem.”
Funding is another ongoing challenge the Centre faces but a recent $105,000 multi-year funding grant from BayTrust ($35,000 per year for three years) has taken a lot of pressure off.
“The advantage of multi-year funding is it gives us the security of knowing we have three years of grants ahead so we can plan a little bit better.”
The Centre receives funding from a range of different sources including the Ministry of Social Development and Department of Internal Affairs. But they are pleased to have a long-term relationship with BayTrust.
“It’s a good chunk of money and the great thing about it is, it’s not tagged so we can spend it where we need to – which for us is on operational costs like wages, administration and overheads such as electricity and water. All that sort of thing. It is a big benefit for us and we’re most grateful to have BayTrust’s ongoing support.”