Team supports youth

From left, Central and South Taranaki police youth development officer Simon Howard, youth worker Phyllis Ratu, whanau support worker Lovey Read, family violence prevention and intiatives' Stephanie Walden, and Tutaki Youth Inc general manager Ellen Hall are excited about next week's opening.
PETRA FINER
From left, Central and South Taranaki police youth development officer Simon Howard, youth worker Phyllis Ratu, whanau support worker Lovey Read, family violence prevention and intiatives' Stephanie Walden, and Tutaki Youth Inc general manager Ellen Hall are excited about next week's opening.

Stratford's new youth centre is poised to put at-risk teens back on the right track.

A push to help kids succeed is bringing four services under one roof in central Taranaki.

Tutaki Youth Inc, a $1.2 million purpose-built recreation centre, opens on Tuesday.

General manager Ellen Hall said that the centre was intended to be a safe-haven for the town's teenagers.

Tutaki Youth Inc houses a recreation centre, computer suite, cooking area, gym and enough space for several social services, including a youth health nurse practitioner.

It is an amalgamation of the People's Activities Centre- Youthworks, Central and South Taranaki Youth Development Trust and the Central Rugby and Sports Club.

"This will be a place where young people feel safe and welcome to come, it is their place," she said.

"They will own this space".

Activities and programmes are planned to run regularly.

"While it will be a place they can come and lounge and chill out, it will be an active place."

Whanau support worker Lovey Read, a trained social worker, will be occupying one of the centre's new offices.

"We work with families, not just individuals," she explained.

"Our referrals come from anywhere, it can be self, whanau, schools, health, Child, Youth and Family, Police, anyone that works with children really," she said.

Phyllis Ratu, a youth social worker, works closely with Ms Read.

"I'm here, really, to support young people in their life choices," she said.

Those choices could relate to work, home, health, anything affecting a persons life.

Stephanie Walden is set to take up a role focusing on family violence prevention initiatives and anti-bullying work.

She will work closely with Simon Howard, the police family violence prevention co-ordinator, project leader and youth development officer. Mr Howard said they would also be running an equivalent to the highly successful Poll 400 project - first pushed by HRC Family Counselling Services.

That project, which followed up on every reported domestic incident, unearthed the true scale of abuse in south and central Taranaki.

He will also continue to run the active Lions Den boxing classes.

Ms Hall said that having everything in one location would make response times faster.

Tutaki Youth Inc is funded by several providers including the Stratford District Council, Taranaki Electricity Trust, TSB Community Trust and New Zealand Community Trust.

Taranaki