The Neighbourhood Trust’s new Mairehau community hub, The Whanau Centre, was recently featured in an article in local newspaper the Nor’West News. Read the full article below.

Community hub ‘filling a gap’ for families in Mairehau

By Bea Gooding

A new community hub will soon open its doors in Mairehau, following an increased need for physical and social support in the area.

The Neighbourhood Trust is in the process of revamping their former Pay It Forward store premises to make room for The Whanau Centre.

It comes at a time when community organisations have been scrambling to pivot their services to better support the increasing number of people facing unemployment and other hardships due to Covid-19.

Said the trust’s community development worker Don Benn: “The Whanau Centre provides a physical presence for The Neighbourhood Trust to operate in the heart of Mairehau, which has seen an increased need for community connection since the lockdown.

“Accessibility is a big factor for people needing some help, and the centre will make it easier for families to reach.”

During the lockdown the organisation delivered food packages to families and vulnerable people in need, but Mr Benn said “hand-outs” were not a long term solution.

Even though the service is essential, he believed having a permanent facility was more beneficial in the long run, such as providing the opportunity for people to build important skills.

Said Mr Benn: “With the support from the council, we can provide services such as food packages, a community garden project to help families be more in control of fresh fruit and vegetable production, a drop in centre where people can share their burdens and potentially be referred to places for specific help. 

“We’d love to see an opportunity for driver licensing classes to occur as well as work-ready skills like preparing CVs, interviewing skills and dressing for interviews.”

The project has been in the works since January this year, which Mr Benn believed was “filling the gap” in the Mairehau community.

The trust’s former Pay It Forward store previously sold locally handcrafted goods, with its proceeds being fed back into community projects.

But with the premises now vacated, they believed it was a perfect opportunity to utilise the space and get the project off the ground which will be ready to enjoy by the end of August.

“Covid-19 has really accentuated the need for community connection. Loss of jobs and hours of work means the people are needing extra support at this time,” he said.

“Although we are at Level 1 again, the ongoing effects last longer, so The Whanau Centre is an ideal location to offer that support.”

Read the rest of the Nor’West News below.