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New schemes . . . Fale Pasifika O Aoraki general manager Ofa Boyle (left) and staff (from left) Vicky Cunningham, Bale Seniloli, Tania Andrew, Ana Fakataha and Kylie Douglas run a variety of initiatives out of their Strathallan St office. PHOTO: GRETA YEOMAN

by Greta Yeoman

Establishing a social coffee group for Pasifika women across South Canterbury is the next scheme on the agenda for Fale Pasifika O Aoraki, its general manager says.

Emergency response initiatives, sporting schemes and social activities are among the recipients of the Community Trust of Mid and South Canterbury’s latest round of grants.

The Highfield Tennis Club received $6000 to go towards resurfacing two of its courts, and the South Canterbury Stroke Club was granted $3000 for operational costs.

The club offers a variety of social and recreational activities and support for members around the region.

Community spirit was high on the agenda of the trust, South Canterbury Neighbourhood Support receiving a $10,000 grant for the operational costs behind promoting the “South Canterbury Gets Ready” initiative.

The scheme is a regional alert network and tool for assistance in times of crisis.

The platform is fully privacy compliant but allows Neighbourhood Support to collect, sort and report household information to everyone who may be involved in emergency response at the grassroots level.

Alongside several funding grants to Ashburton and Mid Canterbury organisations, the Timaru Community Patrol was also given a grant for new uniforms – including polo shirts, beanies, caps and monogrammed high-visibility vests.

The $6000 grant had “absolutely thrilled” patrol volunteers, funding co-ordinator Jill Pearce said.

“[This] will make our small team of patrollers look very professional and be safely seen by the public and emergency services we work beside.”

She thanked the community trust for its donation.

“This is a massive relief for our volunteers, as fundraising and doing night and day patrols can be a very heavy volunteer work load.”

The Community Trust of Mid and South Canterbury uses returns from investments to fund its grants.

The trust supports not-for-profit organisations and projects through a range of funding opportunities throughout the year.

For more information, visit www.comtrust.org.nz.

Ofa Boyle said the organisation – which received $2000 from the Community Trust of Mid and South Canterbury to start up the scheme – planned to start the monthly gatherings in Ashburton, Timaru and Oamaru in late March.

“We’re always thankful for what we get,” Ms Boyle said of the funding.

She said the combination of busyness and responsibilities of many women, particularly for Pasifika women – whether in their relationships, raising children, working and running a household – meant they often did not care for themselves as well as they could.

“We forget ourselves.”

She hoped this group would enable women from Timaru, Oamaru and Ashburton to catch up with friends, remember the importance of wellbeing and decrease the feelings of isolation many people felt.

While the organisation had a focus on supporting the Pasifika community, their services and initiatives were “always for the wider community”, Ms Boyle said.

“Anyone who walks through the door wanting to learn about culture or wants support [is welcome].”

She said Fale Pasifika o Aoraki had a focus on equality, and while men and women could have different roles in life, women were equal to men. Alongside social schemes, Fale Pasifika O Aoraki also runs courses and seminars for youth in Mid and South Canterbury, has emergency and transitional housing schemes in Christchurch, Timaru, Ashburton and Oamaru and runs English lessons.

Their transitional housing referrals come through Work and Income and those in need of support can stay in the housing for up to three months, while they work with a case manager to see what is holding them back from permanent housing, Ms Boyle said.

The organisation also offers budgeting support, promotes various education schemes and provides support for families (in family harm situations) – both advice and support for survivors and anger management courses for abusers, she said.

Ms Boyle also reminded the wider South Canterbury community that while the wider Pasifika community had similar experiences, each country had its differences.

“Because I’m a Tongan, people expect we know about Samoa.”

For more information about Fale Pasifika O Aoraki, visit falepasifikaoaoraki.org.nz or find their offices at Community House, Timaru.