The Year in Review

When someone turns to us, they have reached a critical point on their journey. We‘ll then walk beside them, through the ups and downs. Together we will create a path and set milestones to help them find a new direction, and enrich their lives.

Two repeat issues that stood out during the year, and continue to do so for Mission for Families and Mission for Independence clients, are inadequate housing and financial hardship.

Mission for Families social workers have advocated for and helped most of the 173 families seen this year into improved housing and/or a more stable financial position. This included physically moving out of a leaky, overcrowded, or ‘P’ contaminated home or approaching their landlords or providers to insulate and maintain damp or draughty homes. Ideally, as soon as a family starts experiencing difficulties, it pays to identify and address the issue or issues to prevent ill health, behavioural issues or child maltreatment. Although we have worked with families on an early intervention basis, we have also worked with a high number of Child, Youth & Family referred cases – where the higher risk factors and less stable situations call for more frequent and closer engagement by our social workers.

It’s never simple – most families we see have multiple challenges in an environment of financial stress and lack of security. This feeling of instability often has a flow-on effect to the children. However by improving a family’s home environment, potential to compete in the labour market, nutrition, health, and resilience, children have the best start in life and more options for the future.

A housing shortage in Greater Wellington has meant Mission for Independence’s services have seen increased need for advocacy and support in accessing affordable housing. Private rentals are often out of financial reach even with Work & Income accommodation entitlements, but are still sought after – as is social housing. Once in a home, our clients are being supported to maintain that tenancy through the direct assistance of our Community Services Advocate, budget advisors, Drop-in Centre, and Foodbank.

We are enthusiastic supporters of Wellington’s Street Outreach Programme, a collaboration of a dozen of the organisations involved in Te Mahana (Wellington’s strategy to end homelessness). Outreach workers perform daily walks around Wellington streets, to check in with the street community – especially those who are begging, rough sleeping or where there is concern about an individual’s wellbeing. The purpose is to build trusting relationships with the street community. These encourage connection with appropriate services that enable people to achieve a safer and more supportive living environment. We are constantly reaching more people in this community, and seeing more of them in the Drop-in Centre and other services we provide.

Last year we undertook a review of our Drop-in Centre using a co-design methodology – a step-by-step analysis that involves staff, guests, and external observers. As a consequence we expanded our model of practice. We encourage cultural expression to better support diversity, and support from staff creates more opportunities for guests to access other services. Additionally we have introduced guest speakers and practitioners to develop education and community ties. In this safe and supportive environment, guests gain self-awareness and self-determination to better manage their situations and face challenges. More significantly perhaps, a sense of community between people at risk of homelessness, ongoing health issues, and social isolation is being created beyond its doors and opening hours.

Our Budgeting Advice service was audited by the New Zealand Federation of Family Budgeting Services and passed with excellent results. The Mission was also pleased to be able to contribute to the Ministry of Social Development’s (MSD) redesign of how it funds and supports budget services that are delivered to the public. Their aim is to increase the financial capability of vulnerable New Zealanders experiencing hardship, which is exactly our client group. Our input will mean MSD’s new service model will more comprehensively recognise the complexity of needs for those who experience extreme difficulties, to effect positive societal change.

This year the average age of rangatahi (young people) in the Mission for Youth programme was again only 14½ years – a disturbingly young age to drop out of mainstream schooling. Correspondingly, we saw incoming rangatahi with a high incidence of drug and alcohol recreational use and dependence, even in this younger age group. Our students accessed more support than they had prior to joining us, including: counselling (drug, alcohol, grief, and anger management), mentoring, and mental health care. Rangatahi are less likely to pose a risk to themselves or others when they are regularly addressing mental health and drug and alcohol issues.

High-risk youth often have complicated issues and behaviours, and histories of truancy. These combined factors make assisting them to achieve positive direction in their lives – through education, employment, or training – difficult, but not impossible. Several achieved enough NCEA Level 1 credits to continue their education towards NCEA Level 2. Others transitioned to apprenticeships, technical courses and full-time employment. Most importantly, 79% of Mission for Youth students did not criminally offend or reoffend while on the programme. We also again extended our support through the school holidays – offering 240 placements for rangatahi in the Wellington, Kapiti, and Horowhenua districts.

Of the older people regularly visited by Mission for Seniors caseworkers, 59% have little meaningful contact with other people, family, and their communities and 49% tell us they are lonely. More than half have some degree of memory loss or cognitive impairment. Staff continued to assist with socialisation, advocacy, and information transfer. As well as making improvements in their personal well-being, seniors on the programme were assisted to attend health appointments which included GPs, allied health professionals, and outpatient clinics. Several were supported through issues of loss or grief of varying nature. Health and safety in their homes was also a focus for the year. This involved assessing and improving equipment such as smoke alarms, glasses, and mobility and hearing aids. All of these efforts mean that older people in Greater Wellington are being empowered to stay in their homes as long as they safely can (or
want to), and lead fuller lives.

Because of the trend of older people remaining in their own homes for longer, residents of Kemp Home & Hospital are being admitted with more complex medical, social, and behavioural issues. This is causing operational costs to steadily increase. Kemp is dwarfed by the large for-profit retirement villages in the district. However it continues to offer the highest standard of professional care, a friendly atmosphere, and a range of events, celebrations, and regular community group meetings on site. It is also one of the few faith-based facilities in the region. Residents are able to achieve a positive lifestyle not possible without its support.

Whatever their situation, with support and guidance, those who once felt lost are discovering their inner strengths, setting goals, celebrating milestones, and empowering themselves for the long haul. Their journeys are not over after moving on, but our time together represents a small yet crucial part. They will have the direction they need to face their challenges, find solutions, and lead full and enriched lives.

This is an extract from the 2015-16 Annual Review. If you would like to read the whole document, you can download it from the resources panel on this page.

Resources:

2015 -16 Annual Review 

Points of Interest:

What We Do

On a Mission Magazine