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New partnership to help needy

NIGEL MOFFIET
Last updated 05:00 01/07/2014
City mission
Nigel Moffiet

DOORS CLOSE: Auckland City Mission workers Judy Villanueva and Neil Denney clear out the Otahuhu food bank.

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It's the end of an era for a social service provider but it's hoped a new partnership will benefit people desperate for help.

Auckland City Mission's stand-alone food bank in Otahuhu closed its doors yesterday after 16 years in the area.

Instead, the mission is partnering with other South Auckland organisations to provide relief and assist them with food parcels, equipment, expertise and social work support.

Mission chief operating officer Jacki Richardson says restructuring the service was a result of investigating the needs of the people in the area.

A study titled the Family 100 Research Project followed 100 people for a year, focusing on issues like income, unemployment, health, social services and housing.

"Feedback from our clients revealed how time-consuming, complex and costly they found the process to access support from the maze of social service providers. This prompted us to reflect on how we could improve the situation," Richardson says.

"Working in partnership with other community organisations to create more integrated services seemed the solution."

One of the partners is Mangere's Nga Whare Waatea marae. It has been working with the organisation since December last year.

"The partnership . . . has worked extremely well and we are looking forward to establishing further partnerships," Richardson says.

Marae food bank co-ordinator Marama Davis says the new initiative is delivering much-needed support.

"There have been weeks where we've had a minimal number of people use the service and weeks where there have been huge amounts . . . it's giving us more hands-on interaction with people.

"We've had a number of families who share their stories with us and for a lot of them their problems have stemmed from weeks prior or months prior and we look at them and think, ‘how have you managed'."

City Mission team leader Neil Denney says the South Auckland closure brings mixed emotions.

"We're sad we're leaving Otahuhu but pleased to offer a bigger range of services . . . having to come here just for food didn't make sense and cost people money to do that. We needed to provide more economical services."

Papakura Marae, Middlemore Hospital and Starship Children's Hospital are among the organisations involved in the new partnership.

Call Nga Whare Waatea marae on 277 7866 for more information.

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- Manukau Courier

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