Midnight Express is back - but in a different form.
The late night youth service has been in limbo since the end of 2011, when three part- time youth workers and the fulltime co-ordinator had their positions terminated. This was despite Porirua Healthy Safer City Trust (PHSCT) securing $50,000 in funding from the Ministry of Social Development.
Last week, PHSCT manager Jenny Lester referred Kapi-Mana News' inquiries on the future of the service to Fanau Centre manager Liz Kelly.
She said she was delighted to announce that $38,000 of funding remaining on the MSD contract would be taken on by her organisation, with youth worker Stu Filo employed to be on the streets on Friday and Saturday nights.
"When [PHSCT] asked for expressions of interest to run this service, I understand we were the only ones that applied. Stu is already out there, getting those networks going again. It's exciting and we feel we're going to be filling a huge gap. There is definitely a need in this community."
Ms Kelly says rather than duplicate services already operating in eastern Porirua, Mr Filo will provide support for them. He will link with Maori Wardens as well.
"He will talk to youth at night, like Midnight Express did, then visit them during the daytime if need be and refer to groups like Streets Ahead or Youth Transition Service.
"This is about getting the right people doing the right things and we want this programme to be much more than a taxi service."
Ms Kelly says they will re- apply for MSD funding before December, likely on behalf of the Fanau Centre, rather than through PHSCT.
Midnight Express began in 2009 with youth workers talking to and assisting young people out drinking on the streets or with no place else to go. Porirua City Council had administered the programme but decided to withdraw support in October last year.
- Kapi-Mana News