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Source: New Zealand Government Kainga Ora

Grant loves his Phillipstown home. It’s warm, modern, and he and wife Lorraine “get on so well with neighbours” in the 18-unit complex.

“I wouldn’t move from here if anybody asked me to,” Lorraine says with a chuckle. “These units are lovely, they’re really nice.”

Grant needs the support his residence offers – more than simply having a healthy home. That connection with his neighbours and community support networks will be crucial as he recovers from surgery and manages his diabetes. The condition meant being admitted to hospital 15 times this year and he must take about 40 different medications each day, he says.

“I’m just starting to learn to walk again after I had my legs amputated. I got my right leg done last November, so I’m just learning to walk again. That’s why I’m in the wheelchair at the moment,” he says.

“I’m just struggling to do the things I want to do at the moment. I want to get out and do the gardens, put some stuff in for my daughter.”

A recent effort by several local community groups, led by Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities, aimed to show people like Grant just the extent of the support available to them.

Left: Renee, chats with one of the tenants at the complex. Right: Grant, chats with Senior Constable Murray McGusty at the barbecue.

Police, Neighbourhood Support and Phillipstown Hub members all turned out to show their support for the community, to chat about their services and – in the case of officers in the Phillipstown Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT), man the barbecue so everyone could share some kai.

“We try to work in with groups like Kāinga Ora to help build community spirit and there’s a lot of social housing around Phillipstown, there’s a wee bit of deprivation and social needs, so we turn up and make sure people know what they can do if they’re not feeling safe or may have problems in the community,” said Phillipstown NPT Sergeant Grant Stewart.

“Some people may feel a wee bit socially isolated, there are some people with mental health issues, but they come out at gatherings like this and make connections with people who can help them when they need it. They might not need our help now, but they know how to approach us if they do.”

Kāinga Ora Tenancy Manager Renee, who organised the event, also had an idea in store to continue to bring people in her community together – to come up with a name for their village.

Currently simply referred to by its street name and number, Renee thought finding a new name would be a good way to continue to bring people together.

“I also thought it’d be a good way to help our residents feel a sense of belonging and ownership in their homes – these homes are theirs, and what better way is there to connect with something than by giving it a name?”

Renee and the community will likely settle on a name in the New Year.

Page updated: 7 November 2019

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