Christmas is a good time to celebrate the fact that we now have a Catholic social work agency in Tauranga Moana. Since May, 18 referrals have been received for our intensive social work services. The work undertaken addressed a range of issues including elder abuse, support for families where children are failing to thrive, loss of accommodation, and long-term financial stress. The referrals came from a wide range of sources both within the Church community and the wider community.
Seasons for Growth, the eight week programme where participants learn new ways to respond to significant loss and change in their lives, was introduced at St Thomas More primary school. The first group of seven children (the maximum number able to be registered for a group) were very engaged in the learning and activities, which are designed to strengthen social and emotional wellbeing after experiencing grief. We plan to alternate the programme between the two Catholic primary schools, with the first programme at St Mary’s being offered in February 2017.
Our volunteer-engagement programme will be piloted in 2017. The aim of this programme is to match volunteer mentors with individuals, or families, who would like to acquire home-based life and personal skills. A lack of home-based skills is observed in many of the homes social workers visit – for instance, a family who have received food parcels but struggle to plan a meal from the individual items provided; a sole-parent father who wants to grow vegetables in his backyard but doesn’t know how to start a garden; a young mum who needs to learn how to organise herself so her home functions well . . . just three examples from hundreds of scenarios where compassionate members of the community could make a difference by giving their time and wisdom to share basic skills on a peer-support level.
In partnership with our colleagues at Anglican Action, CFSS Tauranga Moana will also be providing reintegration support to people who are returning to this community after serving a custodial sentence. Ex-prisoners are among the most marginalised and shunned people in society and there is a huge need for this type of work – which will have overarching goals of supporting the wider family network and keeping people safe. As a Catholic social service agency we are well placed to lead by example in demonstrating ongoing commitment to the values espoused by Pope Francis earlier this year: hope, mercy and compassion for all people.
We wish you a safe and happy Christmas 🙂