On­go­ing need for safe haven

Matamata Chronicle - - News/opinion - By NICKI DAVIDSON

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

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