Com­mu­nity groups play vi­tal role

The Tribune (NZ) - - NEWS - CR LORNA JOHN­SON

We have many strengths as a city: we’re di­verse, safe and in­clu­sive. We’re big enough to have a large range of ser­vices but small enough to know our neigh­bours and feel con­nected to one an­other.

As the coun­cil­lor with the com­mu­nity ser­vices port­fo­lio, I’m priv­i­leged to see first­hand the role the com­mu­nity and vol­un­tary sec­tor plays in mak­ing our city a friendly, sup­port­ive, and wel­com­ing place to live.

I have worked and vol­un­teered in com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions, and since I was elected onto coun­cil in Oc­to­ber I’ve been vis­it­ing some of the hun­dreds of com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions that are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in our city.

The work of com­mu­nity and vol­un­tary or­gan­i­sa­tions is not al­ways vis­i­ble. This is be­cause they’re of­ten work­ing with the most vul­ner­a­ble and marginalised groups in so­ci­ety. Yet the ser­vices they pro­vide touch all as­pects of so­cial, cul­tural and eco­nomic life.

Where would we be with­out the thou­sands of peo­ple in our city who give their time freely to pro­vide food parcels, com­mu­nity meals, emer­gency hous­ing, ad­vo­cacy sup­port, bud­get ad­vice and so many other ser­vices, such as wel­com­ing and sup­port­ing our mi­grants and refugees?

Re­search sug­gests that where trust and so­cial net­works flour­ish, in­di­vid­u­als, busi­nesses and neigh­bour­hoods pros­per eco­nom­i­cally. The so­cial in­fra­struc­ture of our city is just as im­por­tant as our wa­ter, trans­port and phys­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture.

A city that lacks so­cial co­he­sion be­comes less safe, less healthy and less at­trac­tive. A good so­cial in­fra­struc­ture at­tracts fi­nan­cial and hu­man in­vest­ment, and builds the so­cial cap­i­tal to help counter some of the ef­fects of so­cio-eco­nomic dis­ad­van­tage.

In short, build­ing so­cial in­fra­struc­ture here in Palmer­ston North makes eco­nomic sense. It im­proves peo­ple’s health, re­duces crime, and makes our city a more at­trac­tive place to live.

The coun­cil recog­nises the vi­tal role the com­mu­nity and vol­un­tary sec­tor plays in the wel­fare of our cit­i­zens. It con­trib­utes sig­nif­i­cantly to our so­cial, spir­i­tual, eco­nomic, phys­i­cal, and cul­tural health and wellbeing, and we sup­port the sec­tor through grants ad­min­is­tered by the Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Coun­cil and fee for ser­vice ar­range­ments.

The Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Coun­cil makes sure com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions in Palmer­ston North get the sup­port they need. It pro­vides mem­bers with a range of ser­vices and devel­op­ment sup­port, and is a voice for the lo­cal com­mu­nity sec­tor.

Each year the CSC runs a so­cial wellbeing fo­rum, where those in­volved in the com­mu­nity sec­tor come to­gether to dis­cuss cur­rent is­sues and po­ten­tial so­lu­tions. This year the fo­rum is on May 5. I’m very much look­ing for­ward to it and will use it as an op­por­tu­nity to fur­ther build and strengthen my re­la­tion­ships with our city’s com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions.


Palmer­ston North City Coun­cil­lor Lorna John­son

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