Drop-in cen­tre of­fer­ing reg­u­lar sup­port

South Canterbury Herald - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS -

Re­porter

con­tin­ues our se­ries on vol­un­teers in our com­mu­nity.

As part of our se­ries on show­cas­ing the ef­forts of vol­un­teers in the com­mu­nity, re­porter Rachael Comer spent a day at the Ad­dic­tion Men­tal Health Peer Sup­port Ser­vices cen­tre.

A Ti­maru drop-in cen­tre of­fers its vis­i­tors a chance to work through ad­dic­tions and men­tal health is­sues.

Nes­tled be­tween a church hall and the AA Cen­tre in Church St, the Ad­dic­tion Men­tal Health Peer Sup­port Ser­vices cen­tre is open four days a week and pro­vides sup­port and a chance for peo­ple to ‘‘help each other through re­cov­ery’’, man­ager Jan An­drews says.

The cen­tre has a fam­ily feel as I quickly dis­cover when I ar­rive on Mon­day to vol­un­teer. As soon as I get in the door I am of­fered a cup of cof­fee and the chance to talk to cen­tre mem­bers.

An­drews tells me it’s a bit qui­eter to­day.

The cen­tre has sev­eral vol­un­teers, usu­ally so­cial work or men­tal health stu­dents, who give up their time to help out.

They take part in ac­tiv­i­ties with vis­i­tors and fa­cil­i­tate ac­tiv­i­ties and events.

‘‘Vol­un­teers are im­por­tant here and most have some ex­pe­ri­ence with men­tal health and ad­dic­tion and that adds an­other as­pect to the re­cov­ery process,’’ An­drews said.

‘‘Vol­un­teers are im­por­tant here and most have some ex­pe­ri­ence with men­tal health and ad­dic­tion.’’

All vis­i­tors to the cen­tre are self-re­ferred. At the mo­ment it has about 90 mem­bers.

Peer sup­port is a big part of the process for drop-in cen­tre vis­i­tors, An­drews said.

Many peo­ple at the cen­tre also had a lot of his­tory with one an­other, she said.

Build­ing friend­ships was im­por­tant, with older and younger peo­ple shar­ing their ex­pe­ri­ences on the same level, she said.

I strike up a con­ver­sa­tion with cen­tre mem­ber Paul Kun­nen and he in­vites me to play pool.

The cen­tre has sev­eral pool ta­bles and Kun­nen plays like a cham­pion.

Sev­eral hits in and it’s ev­i­dent I haven’t played in years. I get a ball in the hole but it’s Kun­nen’s and not my own. He wins with ease. Next I sit down with visi­tor Re­gan Smith, 41, who suf­fered a head in­jury in Syd­ney 20 years ago.

‘‘I as­so­ciate with oth­ers in sim­i­lar cir­cum­stances. It’s a good place as you can come to be with like-minded peo­ple.’’

Then it’s on to the ac­tiv­ity for the day - the cen­tre’s first Zumba class.

The catchy mu­sic of the Zumba class has most of the vis­i­tors on their feet. Ev­ery­one is hav­ing fun. Maybe the old adage about laugh­ter be­ing the best medicine re­ally does ring true.

I leave my vol­un­teer­ing stint with a smile on my face.

PHO­TOS: DOUG FIELD/STUFF

Re­porter Rachael Comer and Paul Kun­nen play pool at the drop-in cen­tre.

The first Zumba ses­sion.

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