Our past few years have been challenging as we have stood together to ensure individuals and families in our local communities have the necessary support wrapped around them to respond to whatever hardship they might be facing.
It has been tough for many whānau and, at Visionwest Waka Whakakitenga, we know how much this support means to people when they are facing challenging times. We continually hear stories of hope and transformation from people who have received support through housing, kai, mentoring, counselling, budgeting, and home care support.
While our response over the past year has been heightened due to Covid and the hardship this has brought, we have also been able to make progress on the five key focus areas within our Five-Year Strategic Plan.
As I reflect on our year and these five key areas, I can see the dawning of a new day. As Visionwest looks to the future and what is before us, I’d like to share with you some key events within our five strategic areas.
Prioritising Kaupapa Māori
So much has happened in this area over the past twelve months, including the naming of Huia Mai as the holder of our Kaupapa Māori mahi.
I would like to pay tribute to our Pou Whakarae/Head of Māori Development and Education, Fred Astle. Fred has led our organisation in this area and has gathered into his leadership team some exceptional people including Rāwiri Auty and Animoa Goold. Together we are ushering in a new day and new ways of working as we seek to be a partner to Te Tiriti o Waitangi and grow in all that this means.
One highlight in this strategic area has been the running of Te Tiriti o Waitangi workshops by Animoa. These are designed to give Visionwest staff a greater understanding of the Treaty and how it can positively impact our day-to-day service delivery.
A second highlight has been the superb Covid response made possible through funding provided to Huia Mai by Te Puni Kōkiri and Ministry
The dawning of a new day as we celebrate Matariki together watching the sun rise over Tāmaki Makarau.
Addressing homelessnessHousing remains an area of high need throughout Aotearoa New Zealand. Visionwest has been able to address this need through a number of initiatives including:
- Undertaking the management of a large Kāinga Ora complex in Manurewa which has added 23 transitional housing properties to our housing stock. In all, over this past year, we have seen a 40% growth in the number of properties Visionwest has available for transitional housing in Auckland and Canterbury.
- Work has begun on the Glen Eden site development project. While it will take some time and work for this to come to fruition, we are hopeful that over time this will add to the number of houses we have available to whānau.
- The My Whare youth housing programme also continues to take shape and we expect this to gain some forward momentum in the coming year.
Increasing community wellbeingAt the heart of all Visionwest does is a deep desire to increase the wellbeing of whānau in our local communities. The presence of Covid in those communities meant the need was greater than ever before. Every one of our services recorded significant increases in the requests for support. This included food, budgeting, and counselling. Adding to our ability to meet the needs of our community is the increasing of our Community Connector team to six. This has enabled us to identify needs and provide the appropriate wraparound support to an increased number of individual client whānau. I’d also want to mention here, the incredible work of our Home Healthcare team. Working within a nationwide shortage of home healthcare staff, our teams throughout the regions have done well to maintain services to the older members of our communities and those living with disabilities.
Collaborating for changeAs always, I’d want to acknowledge that Visionwest’s mahi could not be completed on our own. Our collaboration with Glen Eden Baptist Church (GEBC) as a partner in our work remains vital and strong. We also continue to develop relationships with various funders and supporters, and I want to especially thank all those individuals and organisations who have been so generous in their support of the mahi we do. In Canterbury, our collaboration with Oxford Terrace Baptist Church (OTBC) continues to grow with the commencement of buildings on the OTBC site which will include office space for our Canterbury Community Housing Team, and social housing which our team will manage. In-depth reports relating to the effects of Covid on our communities, especially as they relate to food insecurity, and the challenges faced by whānau that result in their accessing budgeting services, were very much a collaboration between Visionwest and partner organisations. In particular, the Housing First Auckland collective, and Kori Hiakai – the Zero Hunger Collective, collectives which we are a part of and whose points of focus are addressing housing and poverty-related hunger respectively. Being successful in the Westpac Business Awards was an acknowledgement of the incredible mahi achieved by the Visionwest team across Aotearoa New Zealand and all those who share our work – you can read about these awards later in this report.
Resourcing for tomorrow
The past year has seen the continuing development of two properties in Auckland which will enable Visionwest to work with greater efficiency. The first is our new Home Healthcare workplace in the NorthWest Shopping Centre in Westgate where our Glen Eden and Albany Home Healthcare offices have combined to create one office.
Meanwhile, work continues on renovations to the Glengarry Road property. Although Covid has hampered the progress at times, it’s expected that many of our Glen Eden administrational support team members will be working from there by the beginning of 2023. Alongside this, as mentioned above, work has begun on the Glen Eden site development project. More about this long-term project will be shared in the coming months.
This past year has seen a focus on staff wellbeing which has included the appointment of a GM of Wellbeing. This came at a good time as many staff and their whānau experienced Covid during the past 12 months and it was good to be able to offer support.
With regard to Covid, I do want to express a big and sincere thank you to the Pandemic Management Group (including Murray Penman, Sandra Hewlett, our Pandemic Manager, and Paul Town, our Incident Controller) and all our Pandemic and Wellbeing coordinators who did such a great job guiding us through the Covid events of the past year. Many have shared with me their appreciation of the regular emails detailing the protocols and wellbeing initiatives that have been established to ensure safety and productivity.
In closing, I want to acknowledge and thank Glen Eden Baptist Church for their continued support which is given in so many practical ways; and I want to again thank all those who make up the Visionwest Waka Whakakitenga team around Aotearoa New Zealand. You all give so selflessly of your gifts and talents, and, because of this, lives and communities continue to be transformed.
Lisa Woolley, CEO