Ongoing need for safe haven
Above the post office on Arawa St is Starfish – home to community-based youth services and a safe haven for Matamata’s young people for nearly two years.
Offering free counselling and mentoring, anger management programmes, a drop in centre, drug and alcohol counselling, advocacy, and support, counsellor and manager Jo McNaughton said Starfish is all about youth wellbeing.
‘‘We are here to support young people, finding out what they need, how we can support them, how can we make a difference in their lives,’’ Ms McNaughton said.
‘‘There really are a lot of young people who need help, often with big life issues to talk through.’’
Starfish started in January 2009 and is funded by primary health organisations and community donations.
Ms McNaughton said public support has been excellent but they would like to be able to do more.
‘‘Up until the end of September 2010 we have assisted 90 young people this year. Although the community has been fantastic funding is an issue. We’d love to offer more resources,’’ she said.
One Starfish service is the Shelter, a Friday night drop in centre for 12-18 year olds which runs from 6.30pm to 9pm.
Youth co-ordinator Jono Bay said it is common to see 60 to 90 kids for dinner at 8pm, although in winter the number can be more than 100.
‘‘ We provide a games room, music, audiovisual, hangout area, internet cafe´ , homework lounge, a cafe´ , arts, graffiti wall, dinner, sports, prizes and adult supervision! Sometimes we have bands, movies and other events,’’ Mr Bay said.
‘‘We’d like them to consider the Shelter as a second option, a place where they can feel loved and respected,’’ he said.
For further information about any of Starfish’s services, call 888 8795, or check out their website www. starfishservices.org.nz