Nowhere to go for men­tally ill

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

‘‘ Where to now?’’ is the ques­tion be­ing asked by users and sup­port­ers of the New Av­enues men­tal health day-ser­vice, set to close at the end of June.

The cen­tre is based in Wai­tan­girua with up to 18 reg­u­lar users – but they will soon have nowhere to go, said Kervin Farr from the Welling­ton Af­ter Care As­so­ci­a­tion (WACA).

New Av­enues has been open for 30 years, run by WACA since 1996. Four days a week, clients meet at the house off War­spite Ave and so­cialise, do craft work, ex­er­cise and take out­ings.

‘‘It’s a chance for us to meet oth­ers and take the pres­sure off the peo­ple we’re liv­ing with. It’s good time out,’’ one client told Kapi-Mana News.

An­other said: ‘‘ I’m not sure what I’ll do with­out this place to chill out. They [the DHB] need to pro­vide a ser­vice or we’re on the street and I don’t mix well with nor­mal peo­ple. When I heard the news I was just dev­as­tated. We all are.’’

Clients and staff were told of the clo­sure at a re­cent meet­ing. Its fun­der Cap­i­tal & Coast District Health Board said some clients would be ‘‘ in­te­grated into other ser­vices’’, in­clud­ing Hori­zons, a sim­i­lar WACA-run ser­vice in Ti­tahi Bay. The health board was look­ing at ex­tend­ing the ser­vice be­yond the end of June to en­sure this oc­curs.

But Kapi-Mana News un­der­stands Hori­zons is full to ca­pac­ity, with 63 clients and just two staff.

The DHB’s di­rec­tor of plan­ning and fund­ing San­dra Wil­liams said a re­struc­ture of WACA is the cause of the clo­sure, but Mr Farr re­futes this. He said the is­sue goes back to DHB fund­ing cuts in 2010.

New Av­enues was scaled back to a peer sup­port-style ser­vice and its $120,000 bud­get cut by 10 per cent last year, said Mr Farr.

New Av­enues was a wel­com­ing and safe place where peo­ple could be sup­ported into re­sum­ing their place in the com­mu­nity, he said. Staff knew of the clo­sure in Fe­bru­ary but put off telling clients for ‘‘as long as we could’’.

‘‘Some peo­ple may only come along for six months, oth­ers have been go­ing for five years or more.

‘‘We don’t know what they are go­ing to do. I un­der­stand Cap­i­tal & Coast need to make sav­ings and these are tough eco­nomic times, but this is an es­sen­tial ser­vice and we never ask for money we don’t need.’’

Mana MP Kris Faafoi said wind­ing up New Av­enues was ‘‘short-sighted’’ and af­fected the most vul­ner­a­ble in the com­mu­nity.

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