Community groups play vital role
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