New homes for society's helpers

OLIVIA CARVILLE
Last updated 05:00 06/07/2012
Chch City Mission
KIRK HARGREAVES/Fairfax NZ

FLASH DIGS: The new City Mission building in Hereford St.

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Homeless and cramped welfare agencies in Christchurch are returning to the heart of the city.

Community House and the City Mission hope to be settled in their new premises within a few months, and the Salvation Army expects to follow soon after.

The 52 not-for-profit organisations that used to occupy Community House in Hereford St were left homeless after the February 2011 earthquake.

Community House manager Mike Asmussen said some former tenants were operating from kitchen tables or working from cars and others had been meeting clients in cafes while they waited for a new building.

The wait is nearly over.

The community organisation hoped to start shifting into its new temporary warehouse building in Tuam St within the month.

City Missioner Michael Gorman also had a "sense of excitement" about the mission's fast-approaching shift into its new premises.

The building, worth almost $8 million, sits opposite the City Mission's current home in Hereford St and its foundations were laid prior to the February quake.

It had been a long wait in "cramped conditions" for staff at the mission and Gorman hoped the new building would be completed by early September.

"This building has always been a wish for us," he said.

For the first time all of the mission's services would be located in one place, including drug and alcohol support and detox units, the women's day centre, the men's night shelter, the food bank, social and budget support and a medical clinic.

"It seems to me that a city that has any heart at all would value a major building like this opening in its midst."

Salvation Army Major Mike Allwright said pre-quake plans to build the army's South Island divisional headquarters in Colombo and Salisbury streets were still progressing.

The 4217-square-metre site would include a worship centre, a hall and auditorium, a courtyard, a Hope Centre and activity and office space.

Allwright said the army would look at moving in late 2014.

The Methodist Mission has decided to focus on "putting all our available resources back into the community" and currently had no immediate plans to return to the CBD.

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- The Press

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