Kapiti’s not for profit Wellbeing Centre, Te Ara Korowai, helps people experiencing mental distress through free peer support, holistic wellbeing programmes and creative programmes from its bright and cheery premises in Raumati.
Participants come from across Kāpiti, Porirua, Otaki and Levin because no referral is necessary and they can usually begin programmes straight away. Many of them would otherwise have to go on long wait lists to see the overstretched mental health teams.
When people approach Te Ara Korowai they are looking for welcoming people who “get it”, or a safe space to explore ways to understand why they feel down and what they can do to feel better.
It can take some people weeks, months and even years of struggle before they make a decision to help themselves.
Thanks to the resourcefulness and passion of our dedicated staff and volunteers, we adapted quickly during the COVID-19 lockdown. We were determined to continue providing peer support, art and creative writing remotely.
Dramatic increase in people accessing services
We’ve seen a dramatic increase in people accessing our services. The number of people working in peer-support groups and creative writing classes has nearly doubled since the centre returned to physical groups.
People who have experienced redundancy or a reduction in paid hours are also finding that Te Ara Korowai offers a place to discuss their situation with others who have gone through this type of challenge.
There has also been a significant number of new people accessing the professional counselling services we offer. The centre has also been able to welcome back the Little Sprouts operation, which supports mothers and babies with all sorts of services.
We are seeking more certainty in funding
Funding support running out
Thanks to a small number of very generous benefactors, Te Ara Korowai has been able to meet growing demand and is even looking to increase services in some areas. The centre received the Government’s wage subsidy and Ministry of Social Development Covid-19 funding in April to support its services, but this is now running out.
The lack of key government funding has been an ongoing frustration for the Board over the years. This has created an enormous workload writing funding applications for areas such as Lottery funding. There’s always a cloud hanging over us over how to cover operational expenses; keep the centre open; increase our opening hours to meet growing community needs; and pay for a permanent centre manager and key tutors.
We continue to press for more certainty with contract funding from Ministry of Social Development and the CCDHB with the Board presenting a formal request during March to the Mana electoral MP Hon Kris Faafoi.
We asked that our applications for sustainable funding be given urgent consideration as we are now having to dip into our savings. We are unable to pay our staff the pay rate they deserve and staff are beginning to burn out at a time when COVID-19 has placed extra demands for our services.
Our initial meetings and communication were met with general good will, giving the Board some hope that we would finally be recognised and supported to continue delivering free peer support and holistic wellbeing programmes that compliment our overstretched clinical services.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has slowed this application right down. Without contract funding our savings will be depleted by the end of December and it is likely Te Ara Korowai will need to shut its doors by the end of this year.
A safe, accessible creative space where people can thrive
Closure of Te Ara Korowai would directly affect more than 250 people who come through our doors each year – and this figure doesn’t include additional family members and close contacts. It would leave the Kāpiti Coast without a free specific resource dedicated to providing a safe, accessible creative space with trained and experienced staff and volunteers, where people between Porirua and Otaki experiencing mild to moderate mental distress can belong, survive and ultimately thrive.
Anyone interested in helping support people’s mental wellbeing, please feel free to drop into our centre and take a look around. You may like to volunteer some of your time and skills in the classes or help with secretarial work for the Board and the Centre Manager.
With our AGM approaching on Wednesday 14 October, you may like to consider joining the Board of Trustees to assist in a governance capacity.
If you would like to know more about the services available through Te Ara Korowai and how we can help you or somebody you know please contact us or pay us a visit. T: 04 299 6981 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Te Ara Korowai was Highly Commended in the Arts Access Holdsworth Creative Space Award 2019, presented at Te Putanga Toi Arts Access Awards 2019