MP sees strong support for youth

Labour Youth spokeswoman Louisa Wall has been winding her way through the deep south, and likes the support for youth she sees.

Wall spent Thursday in Invercargill and Mataura and stopped in Queenstown yesterday. The MP spent time at Invercargill's Number 10 Southland Youth One Stop Shop in Deveron St in the morning and was impressed with the range of services available to city youth.

"It was great to see that Number 10 was able to make doctors and nurses available to young people who needed them," she said.

Matuara's community garden was a standout because Inspiring Communities, which ran it, welcomed the young and the not so young.

"A lot of what they're doing is finding out what their community is passionate about and the community garden has attracted people from right across the age spectrum, where everyone works together. They were quite fortunate in that they had the land, but also had a recently retired professional gardener to oversee the logistics."

As well as all the practical skills learnt from gardening, and the produce grown, the garden provided an important focal point in Mataura.

"People have really mobilised around the gardens which are not reliant on Government funding, which means the project is not vulnerable to funding cuts. This means the young people involved have a long-term project to be involved in where they are safe and being very constructive."

Checking in at Queenstown's Youth Booth, run by the Wakatipu Youth Trust, yesterday, Labour candidate for Clutha Southland Liz Craig said young people in the south faced significant issues.

"The young people who are leaving school and going to university kind of look after themselves, but we need to make sure that the young people who stay here are catered for as well. That would mean there are jobs for them to go into, and some of the recent timber mill job losses in the area are concerning."

While it was vital school leavers were catered for, children entering the education system also needed to be served with equal opportunity.

"Young children need to be ready to learn when they get to school, that means that they need stable, warm, dry homes, supportive parents and good health.

"There are families here in the South doing it tough who can't afford to turn on heaters when it's cold or can't afford winter jackets, and things like that can contribute to them not being school-ready." This needed addressing, she said.

The Southland Times