The Corstorphine Hub in Dunedin is helping bring facilities, life skills and community spirit back into a suburb where some families struggle with everyday needs.
We’re basically doing what was intrinsic to communities 30 to 40 years ago,” Hub Coordinator, Mere Jouanides, says.
After Corstorphine School closed in 2010, local residents lacked a community meeting place. Organisers say the Hub started in the former school’s hall in Lockerbie St in December 2013.
“The Hub’s grown and is still growing,” Mere says.
During this past December and January, the Hub moved to the Corstorphine Community Centre in Middleton Rd. It is trying to provide as many regular services as possible, although needs to upgrade the hall and plant a new community garden.
Mere says the Hub works with the Arai Te Uru Whare Hauora and WellSouth organisations to provide services including free social workers, podiatry, diabetes testing, annual breast screening, and seminars on topics such as suicide prevention. Te Kākano nurse-led clinics are also provided.
The Hub also offers free food, a homework group and a playgroup.
“We try and provide people with what we can … everyday essentials,” Mere says.
Public transport is too expensive for many Corstorphine families. She says it costs as much as $40 for a family with two school age children to travel into the city centre and return, twice a week.
“We need to start bringing some facilities here, to Corstorphine.”
People can walk to The Corstorphine Hub and buses stop nearby.
Many families are dependent on Government social welfare benefits and “very large” Pacific Island families live in the suburb. “It is a tight-knit community,” Mere says.
One of the Hub’s regular gatherings is Thursday lunch. Local residents prepare soup together, invented from ingredients donated by KiwiHarvest.
People who usually cook instant mashed potatoes learn simple skills such as peeling potatoes. Those who think they don’t like a particular soup ingredient often change their minds.
We turn the haters of broccoli and chickpeas into believers,” Mere laughs.
During this soup making and communal lunch, older mothers offer young mums advice. Lonely older people come and enjoy holding babies, and mothers with many children are refreshed.
Mere says teenagers who came to the Hub as children now help with the homework group. Older children assist in catering for hui, or other gatherings.
Longer-term, the Hub wants to support people into paid employment and has already helped one young man find work dismantling computers.
The Hub is funded by Te Pūtahitanga, a partnership of nine Iwi, or tribes, which fund initiatives around New Zealand. The Hub also receives funding and support from the Department of Internal Affairs and Dunedin City Council.
The Corstorphine Hub Garden Supervisor, Moana Taana, says people are learning skills such as using a lawn mower and weed eater.
The Lockerbie St Community Garden was popular and a new garden will be planted at Middleton Rd. Vegetables help families eat more healthily and cheaply, she says. People are encouraged to lend a hand.
Moana adds that at the Community Garden they say:
Pull a weed, grab a feed!”
Local resident, Andrea Woodford, says she moved to the neighbourhood two years ago and a friend took her to The Corstorphine Hub.
“I’ve never left – and now I’m the secretary-treasurer.”
People going through difficult times support each other at the Hub, she says.
The three women say many local residents who can’t afford to visit a cafe socialise at the Hub. They say there is a strong sense of community: people embrace others and aren’t critical of each other.
You come in the door, you’re family,” Moana says.
“People just fit in; it doesn’t matter what culture or anything,” Andrea adds.
To contact the Corstorphine Hub click on their Facebook page :
To find out more about KiwiHarvest click here