Our Journey – how we came to be…
Supporting Families Wairarapa branch, formerly known as Schizophrenia Fellowship Wairarapa Branch, began in 1987, formed by a group of Wairarapa carers who had been attending the Wellington SF branch. They hired two rooms and began as a carer support service. Deinstitutionalisation in the 1990s saw Regional Health Boards moving people from institutionalised care into the communities. Supporting Families Wairarapa obtained contracts for Level 2 housing (respite and rehabilitation). Another grant enabled the building of a workshop for consumers to learn and further their skills in handcrafts. The sheltered workshop environment has, under the government’s “Pathways to Inclusion”, been closed.
Some years later, Supporting Families Wairarapa operated a Community Participation Centre. This continued with grants and the employment of Community Support Workers. Supporting Families Wairarapa was the first Non-Government Organisation (NGO) in the Wairarapa to employ a Consumer Advisor and has also held a Systemic Advocacy contract. The Systemic Consumer Adviser worked at management levels in organisations which provide alcohol and drug or mental health services to people within the Wairarapa.
Over the years Supporting Families has continued to develop its services based on best practice models. An example of this is Te Whare Tapa Wha, a well known Māori model of health that is an influential model for describing concepts of health and well being from a Māori perspective. Just as importantly, we actively seek feedback from the people that matter most – those who use our services, their whānau and our dedicated staff, committee and volunteers. We are committed to staying responsive to the changing and diverse needs of our community.
Our current services are now:
- To provide family / whānau support for those families in the Wairarapa caring for someone with a mental health and/or addiction issue.
- To provide advocacy for those with mental health or addiction issues by assisting them with what is needed to achieve resolution, and then to support them in their chosen actions.
- To provide a vocational service for people experiencing any disability into work, further education, social activities or community participation.
- A resource centre utilising grants and donations to provide general mental health, addiction and other disability information and support to the public.
We are proud to have been part of the Wairarapa community for more than 30 years.
We gratefully acknowledge support from The Lottery Grants Board, COGS, T.G. Macarthy Trust, Christine Taylor Mental Health Foundation, Masterton District Council, donations, and membership fees.