“I’m thankful to have a place like this”

I’ve been coming to Tā te Manawa for 14 years now. It all started when a mate of mine said I could come here for a good meal, and sure enough, I started visiting regularly. I liked getting to meet new people and it helped me stretch my budget. Every few months or so I do a shop at the Social Supermarket too, just to help me out when my cupboards get bare.

A lot of my own family have passed away now. I see the people here as being like family. I know how important that is, especially because four years ago I had a heart attack and three days later I had a stroke. I was a pretty sick cookie for a while, then last Christmas I was admitted to Intensive Care, and I stayed in hospital for 51 days.

While I was there, a group of Mission staff visited me. It really took me up a step because I was excited to see them all. They even brought me a card signed by everyone from Tā te Manawa. That was heartening, and I actually got a bit emotional. People come to Tā te Manawa for lots of different reasons. Some don’t have a lot of money, others can’t cook, have addictions, or live alone and want some company.

There are characters from all walks of life, and everyone is welcome. New faces come in all the time too, and there’s no judgement from anyone here.

A lot of people rely on this place. You can get help with anything you could need; budgeting, food, companionship – whatever. The Mission is a great backstop. It gives you a bit of security, knowing that if you’ve got any problems at least you’ll have the right person to talk to, or you can get steered in the right direction. You’ll often get 50 or more people in here, and that’s a sign of the times. But there’s always enough for everyone. Without a place like this, there’d be a lot of desperate people trying to figure out how they’re going to get by, and I’d say it’s saving a few people from prison. For me, I’m very thankful to just be alive, because you just don’t know what’s going to happen and you’ve just got to take life as it comes.

Things are tough out there, especially in winter when it’s cold, but Tā te Manawa is a happy place. You walk in and it’s warm, you can enjoy good food, a nice hot drink and share stories. The warmth from being with everyone lifts you up a notch. I know that Mission donors and volunteers keep this place going, and I think it’s a great place to support if you can, because our community really needs it – now more than ever. It’s magic, really!

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