Client Support Worker:
A couple presented at the office with their 3 year old, a suitcase and sports bag full of their belongings. They had been kicked out of where they were staying and were homeless. They had had a family breakdown with extended family and had nowhere to go. They had no money and Dad’s work was at a low.
They were just holding it together in the office as they told their story. I noted one of their strengths while they were sitting in my office was the caring way they supported each other at such a difficult time. They also had a 5 year old whom they had managed to get off to school before coming to the office. The uncertainty of where they would be staying for the night was written across their faces. All the time they were both trying to stay strong for their 3 year old.
After completing the formalities of paperwork and signed consent we rang Work and Income to see what was available to the family in terms of emergency/temporary housing. This resulted in us having an appointment with Work and Income that day and directed to visit a Motel (that is working alongside Work and Income) to see if they had any vacancies. The owner was very accommodating and showed the couple two units he had available. He informed us he was happy to help and that he had a working relationship with Work and Income in relation to the housing crisis.
On the way to Work and Income I asked the couple if they had eaten today. They hadn’t. Without making a fuss we then went to get some food and found a place to talk and eat.
The appointment at Work and Income was stress free and the couple were supported by the case manager to fill in the required paperwork. The case manager was very understanding and made the process for the couple seamless. She contacted the Motel owner and organised payment which allowed the couple to move into the unit that day. They were also given a food grant payment. As they neared the completion of the paperwork Mum began to get emotional. She stated she was feeling very overwhelmed and couldn’t believe the support they had gotten. She expressed the uncertainty and hopelessness they felt this morning in not knowing where they were going to be staying.
After the appointment we picked up their 5 year old and went to the Motel to pick up the keys to their unit. Once in the unit everyone had a look around. The children were happy with their new room. Mum and Dad were just as happy. Mum disclosed this was the first time in months she would be sleeping in a bed. Up until now they had been ‘couch surfing’.
Mum and Dad were very overwhelmed and thankful for the support they received this day.
Next Step Training: Youth Guarantee:
Four YG students spent the morning looking around Otago Polytech last Friday. Hannah and the students met Sela their guide just after 10 and had a great tour of the Polytech looking in particular at their courses of interest for 2019. They looked at the classrooms for Foundation level three, Midwifery, Carpentry, IT, Automotive Engineering, Vet nursing and ECE. As a result of this visit one student has had an interview and been accepted into the Health bridging course as a step towards midwifery. Another has changed her mind and is hoping to enrol in the level 3 IT course rather than the Foundation 3 course. One is confirmed in their choice of Carpentry and another has enrolled in Vet Nursing Level 4.
Next Step Training: Literacy & Numeracy (Prison):
One heartening thing is the number of students at the prison who have been asking what other courses they can do run by the mission tutors. It seems that we are getting a bit of a name in the prison population for being educators who are able to include all learners, and make things easier for them to understand. One of my guys said that he was never interested in school but if it had been like the work we did at the prison he would have stuck around as he finds the delivery of our information is far easier for him to understand, and he appreciated the feeling of one-on-one tutoring even though there are up to 6 in the room.
Next Step Training: Foundation Skills (Prison):
This month has seen a number of my students buzzing with news about a story writing competition which is being run by the ODT, in conjunction with The University Book Shop and OCF. Several of my students have put entries into the competition and are eagerly awaiting to see if they will win some new books for themselves, as well as some for the OCF Library.
During the short coffee breaks of each course it is sometimes possible to see past students and they are often keen to catch up with the Tutors, see how we are and talk about what they have been up to. One such student came to tell me, very proudly, he was now involved in a secure online learning course and had used knowledge he had gained from at least three of the units of work he had done in the Foundation Skills – one of which was Excel, something he thought he would never use!
Next Step Training: Skills for Dads / Story Reading Dads (Prison):
The Skills for Dads classes have been very honest and the discussions were pretty upfront. We had some guys who were very experienced dads, and some whose only child had been born while they were incarcerated. The sharing of ideas across the group was really encouraging, and they had a lot of fun with the parenting game – a game devised by a Methodist Mission Southern staff member to get the participants thinking about specific parenting situations. One dad had recently lost contact with his sons, and was quite discouraged and disengaged with the sessions. We talked with him, asking if there were other family members who could help him to connect back with the boys. After some thought he realised there was someone who could help and made contact with them. One of the dads who had been adopted out as a baby, met his birth father for the first time recently; others had never met their own dads but had really good step dad experiences.
This time we had mostly the same group for Story-reading Dads, which was lovely. There were two new members in the class and they were warmly welcomed and supported by the group. One of the dads wrote a book for his daughter, leaving pages blank so she could do the illustrations. He also wrote a song for her and recorded that as part of his DVD. This was seriously cool. One of the other dads – a bit of a perfectionist – was dissatisfied with the suggested craft activities and decided to make a dream-catcher for his boys. This required a bit of research from the tutors and some practice so techniques could be demonstrated, but the result was that two dads made very lovely dream-catchers for their boys. Lots of parenting discussion happened over the glitter and paint… One of the new dads had never been to any programmes before and said how much he enjoyed Story-reading dads and that it was the highlight of his week.
I first met Mario, a father of three in his mid-twenties, while facilitating Skills For Dads at OCF in 2017. As part of that service, Mario was entitled to follow-up support upon completion of his sentence. I got in touch with him once he was out, and he had already begun the process of reconnecting with his children and building a life for himself out of Dunedin. One of the focuses during the Skills For Dads course was for participants to make and fill a special box that they can share with their children to re-establish relationships and help the participants consolidate the knowledge they demonstrated and learned during the course. These boxes are stored off-site, and are given to the men as they move to the next phase of their journey.
Mario told me that he had been involved in ‘the System’ since his early years, bouncing through CYF (Oranga Tamariki) placements, and in and out of prison as he got older. Throughout this time, he had become involved with negative people and developed addictions. The service with Mario lasted for approximately 12 weeks, during which time I located and sent the box to him. Mario had also experienced instability in personal relationships and housing through this period. He had reached out to local service agencies and community supports, and told me that he was feeling better about the direction of his life; he had reflected on trying to ‘throw himself’ back into the world outside and come to the conclusion that he would be better to take it slowly. When we ended the service, Mario thanked me for my support, and said he was looking forward to finally being free of ‘The System’.
Dunedin Little Citizens: Kotuku/Tui Room
Poyfest was our main focus for September, with great performances and wh?nau enjoying the event. We are participating in the ‘Shake Out’ in October where the tamariki and kaiako at Little Citizens are participating in the NZ wide earthquake drill, where they learnt about earthquake safety and performed an earthquake drill with many other people around NZ.
Preschool children enjoyed some extra fun over the school holidays engaging in different dress up opportunities. A disco party day, baking experiences and a challenge day to name a few. This is always anticipated by the children and this year the older children in the kotuku group helped to plan and choose the events during whariki time discussions.
We have a number of events coming up including a Fire Service and St John’s ambulance visit with talks to tui and kotuku group and to reinforce and complement the group plan focusing on the children's well-being and taking care of themselves and others in the kotuku group.