Te Rongopai Community Trust aims to help meet the needs of people in the low socio-economic community of Nawton-Crawshaw. The Trust offers a range of free of charge programmes and services including support for job seekers, budgeting courses, homework help, and social and sporting cultural activities.
Funds from the Sutherland Self Help Trust were used to enable Te Rongopai’s counsellors to support people, including school students with their anxiety. Over 50 percent of attendees were under the age of 18.
Stories from participants who benefited from the service included:
- Alice* suffered from anxiety that was triggered by large groups of people, especially men, and new environments or situations. Alice and her counsellor worked through her anxiety triggers including past situations with men and a car crash. Alice was taught coping strategies and to understand her comfort, growth and danger zones so she could take control of situations and build a toolbox to approach new environments. Alice now has a growing confidence and feels she has some control over responses to situations that arise.
- Lucy* suffered mental health struggles and anxiety at school that was affecting her work and leaning. She was frustrated and felt she was not achieving her best. Most of her teachers were unaware of her anxiety. After meetings with her counsellor, Lucy was empowered to discuss her anxiety with her teachers who supported her strategies such as sitting near a window or door, and the ability to work outside of the classroom when overwhelmed. Lucy also has a challenging home environment and strategies were put in place to help her sense of empowerment, ability to cope and people to reach out to when challenges arose. It has led to less anxiety attacks.
- 15 year old James* has been out of school since age 12 and suffers from anxiety around strangers and groups of people. The key to James progress was building a strong relationship with mutual respect. James was helped to explore his identity including pepeha, interests and goals. Through the Te Whare Tapa Wha model he has learnt to make balanced choices to support his health and wellbeing. He enjoyed opportunities to build social connection through sport without being overwhelmed. A greatest achievement is he no longer carries a baseball bat around as a form of protection.
- Sally is a solo mother who suffered long term anxiety and struggled to cope during the Covid-19 pandemic. Her fear of Covid-19 stopped her going about everyday tasks and when the lockdown ended she found it difficult to resume everyday activities such as the children going to school and supermarket shopping. Through Sally’s counselling she was able to express her feelings, identify the factors leading to her increased anxiety and develop response strategies and action steps. Sally is still fearful of Covid-19 but is no longer is finding it debilitating to her daily life.
* Names have been changed to protect privacy.