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Community Services 2023 - A Busy Year

2023 was a busy year for the team at Independent Living Community Services! Our group consists of Mary, Tony, Xiu, Marian and Richard and we work in the community providing information, services and support.

Mary, our Senior Community Connector continues to support a group of around 70 Māori Kaumātua Kuia from her own networks to attend events together. With a strong focus on Māori Culture/Kotahitanga these events have created, nurtured and encouraged a sense of Whānau and belonging to our wider community and to each other. This has relieved the isolation and disconnection and has created a cohesive engaged group.

Mary expresses it best, 

“As Senior Community Connector I have seen so many outcomes from the formation of our Kaumātua Kuia Roopu. There have been so many firsts for the majority of people. The most important outcome for me is the networking and close relationships that have been built up within the Community and the change in attitude of our members. They are more aware of what is in the Community and are more confident in reaching out when needed whether it be to give or receive something.

Every time we meet, our members remind me how grateful they are to me and my team for providing the opportunity for them to come together and feel part of a wider Whānau and valued members of the Ōtara Community. Independent Living Charitable Trust are the only group providing this service to our Community in Ōtara.”

Tony, in addition to his work with Be.Lab is also head of our Dias Information group. He has been heavily involved in supporting the Pathfinder project, an initiative from the New Zealand Federation of Disability Information Centres (NZDFIC) and funded through Whaikaha. The project involves us receiving a referral from our NASC (Taikura Trust) to offer facilitation services to enable the Pathfinder (Disabled people, tangata whaikaha Māori, Pasifika disabled family/whānau/aiga) to understand their local natural universal mainstream funded support options and activities. We work to help find meaningful connections in the community, to help them find their good life as they express it. 

Our Asian Dias group has also had a change in focus and direction. In October we commenced a trial to have Marian and Xiu available in our AT Stores for Korean and Mandarin speakers who need help and support. Whilst it’s early days, this has certainly increased the flow of Chinese and Korean visitors to our stores. Marian has also started a Friday coffee club on the Shore. In her own words, 

I am hosting a Korean coffee chat group for Korean parents and families whose family members have disabilities. Parents have shared their experiences and challenges in an open and safe environment which was relaxed and informative. In this group, attendees were not only parents but also service providers and social workers who work in the disability sector. These individuals helped to pass on practical information to the parents and support understanding of the EGL principles into our Korean community.” 

Xiu has also created several successful events this year, most notably the Information Days she ran early in 2023, which had some fantastic feedback:

“Dear Xiu,

Thanks for hosting the Informative Day on 12th April,2023 which is very informative to seniors and people with disabilities.On that day not only the Community Services Manager of ILS told us about their services, Yog Ji Li from Auckland Council, Sean Lim from Ministry of Ethnic Communities and Vishai Rishi from TANI also gave us speeches. We also had Justin Zeng from the police who talked about Scams. These are  very beneficial to all of us. The performances, free hair-cut , massage and lucky draws made the event more interesting. There are quite a number of service providers :Manawanui,Budgeting and Family Support, Utilities Disputes, whom I had never met before. They offer very essential work. We connect with each other in a very friendly environment.

We do hope that this kind of informative event can be carried out in different areas from time to time.

Kind regards,
Susan Li
Chairperson of Epsom Chinese Association”

More recently Xiu has created several Mid Autumn festival events that have been very successful in Acacia grove, Leabank and Whitehaven.

Richard's focus throughout 2023 was on Enabling Good Lives (EGL). He completed the Humanly ‘Transforming Service’ course and attended several NZDSN (New Zealand Disability Support Network) events focusing their minds on how to embed EGL principles into all we do. 

Closely aligned with EGL is the AT (Assistive Technology) Mentors programme recently gifted to us by our friends at Assistive Technology Australia. This course provides the knowledge and skills to become an AT mentor. AT mentors assist and support people with disabilities and/or carers to make informed choices about their assistive technology and home modification needs. This is is ‘EGL in Action’. Over the coming months, Richard will be updating and modifying this course to meet New Zealand needs and aiming for mid 2024 to release it to our communities.

Richard also spent some time working with our Friends at Vaka Tautua and attending their events in Ōtara to offer our help and support as needed to our Pasifika communities.

On behalf of the Community Services team, we hope you have had an enjoyable start to 2024, and we’ll see you all throughout the year! 

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