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Community groups put their case

Manawatu Standard, 22 October 2009

Tales of transformed lives and devotion to the community appear to have left city councillors in little doubt that civic grants are making a profound impact in Palmerston North.

Grant recipients were given a chance yesterday to outline how and why their organisations are so critical to the city's well-being.

Nearly all struggled to stay within a time limit of 10 minutes as they sought to get across to city councillors the difference their organisations made.

Age Concern Manawatu hopes to receive twice its current $15,000 annual grant when the next three-year cycle of funding is allocated.

Abuse of elderly people, mostly by family members, was increasing in Manawatu, Age Concern manager Sue Gould said.

The not-for-profit group has been running a programme to prevent abuse and neglect in rest homes. It also acts as an advocate.

Ms Gould said grandparents were targeted by grandchildren, who would steal their medication and sell it or stand over them at ATMs.

The organisation also helped people who were uncomfortable about approaching agencies such as Work and Income.

Other groups that made presentations included Citizens' Advice Bureau, Agape, Neighbourhood Support, Teamxtreme, Prisoners' Aid and Rehabilitation, Te Aroha Noa, Youth One Stop Shop and the Highbury Whanau Centre.

City councillors did not decide which organisations received the grants, but the presentations allowed councillors to see that the grants made a real difference, community well-being committee chairman Lew Findlay said.

Genesis Trust director Glen Haddon told councillors how the trust had helped turn around the life of a former prisoner.

The man had been in a mental institution, then prison for five years, followed by 17 consecutive years of unemployment, he said.

Mr Haddon said the man had "zero self-confidence" and was a poor communicator, but the trust slowly gave him work and more responsibility. He obtained part-time work, which turned into a full-time job in August six years after being introduced to the trust.

Time had to be invested in people, he said. "A man whose entire life is dysfunctional won't be turned around by a few therapy sessions by a person in a white coat."

Manawatu Multicultural Council president Allan Young said his organisation, formerly known as the Ethnic Council, promoted racial harmony and its service was "essential" for the city. It organised a multicultural dinner, put out an ethnic cook book and was involved in the Festival of Cultures and Ethkick soccer tournament.


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