More jobs lost in south
Accommodation service for men to closeCOLLETTE DEVLIN
The Invercargill Salvation Army supportive accommodation service for men will close next month and leave more Southlanders out of work.
The closure will put 14 fulltime and part-time staff out of a job and follows the announcement that 65 jobs are being shed at the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter in the next two months and up to 100 jobs are on the line at Blue Sky Meats.
The decision to close the Salvation Army site, which may also leave several men homeless, comes after an engineer's report revealed in May that the 107-year-old Leven St building was a serious earthquake risk.
In May, senior Salvationist management said a lack of funding and a downsizing of services would make it difficult to sustain the service.
Salvation Army supportive accommodation director Captain Doug Newman said some staff were expecting the news; others were still hoping for a solution.
"We explored redeployment opportunities, but there were no vacancies here in Invercargill."
However, he was confident almost all the remaining 17 residents at the 35-bed centre would find a place to live when it closed on October 12.
Many of the residents were parolees or community mental health patients and Salvationists were working with government agencies to relocate the remainder, he said.
"There are only a few that we will have difficulty rehousing, but we are hopeful no one will be left homeless."
He said the men were positive when they were told the news, with some expecting it.
The news had challenged some long-term residents but they had been relocated and were doing well.
The Southern District Health Board and other government agencies had stepped up to help the men.
Historically the service had been seen as an easy place to go and an easy place for different agencies to put people.
"When we first started here we said to say ‘no' because this was the responsibility of the DHB and government departments.
‘They recognised they can't just put people here and forget about them . . . and now they are doing what they are paid to do."
Mental Health and Addictions Southland medical director Alfred Dell'Ario confirmed that the health board and other providers were working to help patients find somewhere to live.
DHB Southland communications spokeswoman Stacy Belser said as far as she knew there was no specific plan yet for men who would have used the services.
Corrections Services Southern regional manager Ian Bourke said at present there were three offenders housed at the centre and Community Probation would work with them and other agencies to arrange alternative accommodation.
Mr Newman said the Salvation Army's intention, cost permitting, was to re-establish supportive accommodation and prisoner reintegration services in the city such as those in Christchurch, Wellington and Napier.
"We have indicated there is a need here in Invercargill, negotiations are ongoing, and we would like this opportunity be be explored," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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