Space tight, but staff busy

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Office space is tight for Safer Mid Canterbury (SMC) staff but the community services provider continues to fill an increasing social need in the Ashburton District.

The organisation is asking council for $243,054 of “seed” funding to help it deliver services for the coming 12 months.

SMC employs 32 people and has 45 regular service volunteers. It rents a sizeable space in Community House Mid Canterbury and is in discussions with the landlord to manage needs.

SMC manager Kevin Clifford said office space was close to capacity and in the short term some staff were working elsewhere. While there was space in the current offices it was more difficult to operate at the moment because of covid protocols.

Mr Clifford said services in general were very busy, but it had been difficult at times to deliver to some people because of covid settings.

There continued to be a strong need for the services provided and staff were working hard to deliver them.

The stresses of the pandemic were being felt particularly by families and there were obvious affects of lockdowns, prolonged social and economic uncertainty and financial pressures.

The year ahead will see core services delivered and in some cases expanded.

Mr Clifford said the refugee resettlement service had started slowly because of covid but was now in full swing.

Some 26 refugees had been welcomed and were being assisted to settle in Ashburton. They were settling well and being supported by five staff and community volunteers. He said there was more funding to assist refugees and new funding also for a community connector role which would be used to support people facing isolation issues.

There was also more funding for the school attendance service, which would double the hours to 36 hours.

Restorative justice services were now delivered to Ashburton, Timaru and Oamaru courts, which made it more viable and brought the economic benefit back to this district, he said.

For the six month period from July to December 2021, SMC’s income was $1.1million compared to $811,000 for the same period in 2020.

Ashburton District Council’s contribution for the same period rose by 9% and central government’s by 37%.

SMC’s funding request will allow them to maximise the outcomes of programme specific funding from other sources.

-By Mick Jensen