Drop-in centre offering regular support
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.
Reporter Rachael Comer and Paul Kunnen play pool at the drop-in centre.
The first Zumba session.