Peter Tia – Kaiwhakawai, Clinical Lead/ Psychotherapist, Te Pūnaha Pā

Those who come to our Pā, generally speaking, are struggling with overwhelming financial hardship, lack of housing, food insecurity, and feelings of displacement and loneliness. But it’s also important to realise that people accessing our supported Transitional Housing are not just those who have a history of homelessness, or long-term issues that have compounded over time. The need has evolved. We’re supporting more and more people who have had a sudden change in circumstance which has massively disrupted their life. Many of our manuhiri (guests) have found themselves unable to meet living costs after losing their jobs, they’ve had a relationship breakdown and become estranged from loved ones, or have been impacted by Covid. Some of these people are even working full-time jobs.

For anyone, these challenges can create feelings of hopelessness, grief, and a lack of confidence. And sadly, they begin to believe that being in this situation means they have no value. Once you start down that road of isolation, it becomes increasingly difficult to break away from it. So it’s essential that professional support is easily accessible for anyone who needs it, right from the get-go.

Taking those first steps can be really hard, but it does get easier. We aim to provide a service where people are safe to begin their new journey and start to feel valued, heard, and seen. Here, we first provide the basics, such as food and housing security and reconnection with whānau and community. We also help manuhiri start unpacking their burdens, through daily routines, learning opportunities such as budgeting, group activities and community outings, and professional counselling and health services. Those we work with begin to break the cycle they’re in, by processing what they’re going through, talking about their experiences, and connecting with meaningful opportunities and services – either within The Mission or through advocacy and referrals to external partners. Over time they begin to prosper in life, and become confident to live in a permanent home – knowing that we will continue to support them throughout their next chapter too.

I think the beauty of The Mission’s support is that, for over a century, it has always been about creating and adapting services to address the voids that people fall into, in the most professional and caring way possible. And I can see that what we’re doing here is working.

Personally speaking, it’s a privilege for me to be in my position – from seeing where someone starts with us through to the prospering of their new journey. I do think services like this are needed now more than ever, as there are so many circumstances that are leading people to feel like they don’t have a way forward. Our challenge is to respond to the issues, and make sure that our community doesn’t normalise viewing people as ‘us and them’ or ‘haves and have nots’. And knowing these services are here to offer hope to anyone who is in their lowest time is a real blessing.

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