Supporting each other is a recipe for success in any small town – that’s why Safe Turangi is working hard alongside others to ensure Turangi is a proud community where everyone feels safe and connected.
Safe Turangi is a small organisation with just eight volunteer committee members and a part-time paid co-ordinator. But they’re making a big difference in local residents’ lives by helping to foster people, projects and partnerships with other community-led organisations.
One example is Turangi’s Community Patrols who work closely with police as extra “eyes and ears”. Turangi’s patrol unit lay dormant for many years, but during Safe Turangi’s Volunteer Expo in late 2020, the organisation managed to recruit 17 new volunteers for a revitalised unit. Safe Turangi then helped raise money for a new hybrid patrol vehicle, and has re-established a governance committee, banking and financial systems for the Community Patrols group so it can operate effectively.
“Because we’re such a small community, a lot of our community groups just lack that experience, knowledge and understanding of how to apply to funders, or manage projects or the like,” explains Safe Turangi Chair Tangonui Kingi.
“We identified that was an area where we actually have some skills and capability. We work with others to support their aspirations and their goals, but they in turn support ours. We work with true blue grassroots groups. In a little town of 3500 people you can’t have the same people on 50 different committees so this is a good option to enable lots of groups to work.”
Another example is Turangi Social Connection which works with local kaumatua and elders to lead more socially connected and independent lives. Safe Turangi support their operations by providing funding administration assistance to ensure the group can operate in a financially sustainable way and continue to provide their services.
“We’re very focused on how to support the really small community groups that become part of the fabric of a small community and often sit just below the radar. They’re not big enough, or they won't have enough committee members to form a formal constitution and be able to register with the Charities Register. But the work they do makes our community all the more richer, and so we just have to figure out ways to say ‘what can we do to help you?’ If it’s putting in some admin support, preparation of financials, drafting up charitable constitutions - you name it, we will figure it out.”
Making A Difference
That desire to help others has seen Safe Turangi get involved in a wide range of community projects since 2014. In addition to organising the Volunteer Expo, Safe Turangi is responsible for the town’s annual Christmas Parade (which in 2021 has morphed into a COVID-friendly ‘14 days of Christmas activities’ instead).
They recently distributed 750 fridge magnets to local households with contact details for emergency and social service providers, and also gifted 350 ‘Safe Kids’ bags to local tamariki full of lollies, balloons, holiday activities and safety resources.
Safe Turangi’s most significant project to date is the establishment of their SafeTea HQ – a central hub with an inviting ‘tea room’ feel where community safety organisations like police, fire and neighbourhood support can meet with the public in an informal way.
“SafeTea HQ in some respects, is a modern take on some of the activities that Citizens Advice Bureau used to fulfill but with the service agencies being present. It’s a very active little space. At the moment we open three days a week for four hours a day. People can pop in to chat with our community constable or ask questions about fire permits and smoke alarms. It’s seen as a nice, central, safe location to meet where the community can engage with no institutional barriers.”
SafeTea HQ, in Turangi’s Town Centre, also hosts committee meetings and public workshops for organisations like Blue Light and Coastguard.
BayTrust has granted Safe Turangi $20,000 to help cover operational costs for the next year. Tangonui says he is ecstatic as the money will allow them to increase the hours of their part-time coordinator and the level of support they’re able to offer other community groups as a result. He hopes SafeTea HQ’s hours can increase, and new organisations can have a presence on-site.
“The grant will be used for scaling up our activity. It is around being able to effectively increase our coordinator’s contract so that we can do more, but it’ll also be to deploy more resources to supporting others to grow. We don’t ask for any more than what we actually need. But I think for the investment that BayTrust makes with their grant, we certainly will return more than that in terms of value to our community.
“We’re just over the moon about the grant because it verifies the trust and confidence that BayTrust has in our ability to deliver.”