10 year anniversary renovations – By Kath Curran

10 year anniversary renovations – By Kath Curran

September marks Napier Family Centre’s tenth anniversary in the remodelled old St Stephens Church building on the corner of Morris Spence and Wycliffe Streets in Onekawa. For those of us who were part of the move 10 years ago from the Cathedral Lane building it still feels great to enjoy the free parking, comfortable office spaces, counselling and interview rooms and heat pumps. The community also responded to the shift and the families engaging with services have more than doubled from 1100 families to over 2500 per annum across our budgeting, family social work, counselling, parenting education, children’s courses and early childhood education services.

It is coincidence but feels like a timely milestone to have received grants from Eastern & Central Community Trust and the Lotteries Community Facilities this year to further improve these premises. This past month the playgroup hall has been upgraded with insulated ceiling, lighting and that marvellous invention of air-conditioning/heat pump. Just a few finishing touches still needed but fully functional so, already, within a few days the hall has been humming with activity with the community hip-hop for under five year olds, the Onekawa community playgroup, our own Bright Futures playgroup, and the term’s community programmes are underway – Parenting Teenagers, Positive Parenting, Incredible Years and Just for Kids. Nearing completion is our new training room and another interview room. Without doubt these spaces will be put to great use.

Well before Napier Family Centre moved into the St Stephens building the Onekawa community parent-led playgroup provided space and time for parents to meet with each other and children play and socialise. Ten years on this group is still going strong. In more recent times we have seen the addition of the Hawke’s Bay Community Law who have run their busy Friday Napier clinic from our premises for the past eighteen months.

Late last year the Community Connexions team gave us a day of gardening that fully established our community garden and fruit trees.  A grant from NCC along with volunteers and expertise from Te Whakaritorito Trust and Volunteering HB made the dream of ten years ago for an edible fruit forest a reality. This project has made the place more welcoming and people delight in taking produce that they can use to enhance their family meal. I guess it is ok that, for some good things, it takes time.

There is immediate urgency though in our city for support for individuals, families and children who are struggling under a load of debt, housing shortage, insecure work, family violence, health issues, stress and the trauma of abuse, loss and grief.

There’s a lot of insecurity in the not-for-profit sector as funding is sporadic and scarce. We remain incredibly grateful to our landlords of the last ten years, St Paul’s Presbyterian Church, who have shown us great faith and been solid partners in establishing a place that I have heard more than one client say, ‘is a godsend’.

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