Nowhere to go for mentally ill
‘‘ 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.