WelCom November 2023
Catholic Social Services (CSS) is the social outreach agency of the Archdiocese of Wellington. Its mission includes social work, clergy healthcare, short-term therapeutic interventions, prison chaplaincy, hospital chaplaincy, support for refugee resettlement, community advocacy and support for people going through loss and grief. All are welcome and services are available to people of all backgrounds and beliefs. Every year CSS holds its Kotahitanga Annual Appeal throughout the month of November to help it fulfil its mission to reach out and serve those on the margins. Kamau Holland and Deirdre Meskill, pictured below with some of CSS’s team members and volunteers, describe how with your help CSS can make a real difference in local communities.
Catholic Social Services
People helping people | āwhina tātou
Working with people on the margins and finding ways of collaborating with others to ensure great outcomes is what we do at Catholic Social Services.
We have a clear model of delivery consistent with the 2017 Synod and the call to us: ‘Go you are sent…’.
We are often asked what trends and challenges CSS has noticed following the Covid-19 pandemic years. The challenges are the same as before but are more intense and complex. Finding affordable housing is almost impossible and emergency housing is at capacity. Mental-health services are stretched to their limits and helping our clients access appropriate services is distressing. One client told us, ‘My son needs help now, not in six or 12 months’ time. Each path we go down to get him help is totally log-jammed, we are desperate.’
Another emerging trend is that more and more people are feeling scared, isolated and lonely. An online survey by Research First in 2023 supports this, but concerningly the findings also confirm loneliness is highest amongst our rangatahi [young people].
Some major issues facing all social agencies are recruiting qualified staff and the securing and retention of sufficient funding to maintain a high level of service. During the pandemic, the Government made significant funding available to enable communities to get the help they needed to survive the pandemic impacts. This led to some new organisations increasing their services. Now that that funding has stopped, these organisations are seeking funding to continue their services – there are more services but less money to support them. In light of these fiscal challenges, CSS has adopted three main approaches to ensure the growth and ongoing delivery of our services.
Our first approach is to collaborate with parishes and other organisations with shared values. For example, Greenstone Doors, Changemakers Resettlement Forum, Upper Hutt Benefit Educational Services Trust, St Vincent de Paul, St Joseph’s Parish Levin and Our Lady of Kāpiti Parish.
Our second approach is to develop a strong volunteer base. We owe a debt of gratitude to these remarkable people as they are a critical part of our CSS service-delivery model and make a real difference. Without them we could not do what we do.
Introducing some of our many volunteers and their work
Seasons for Growth – our trainer and coordinator Jess Ferroni works two days a week, so we rely on volunteers to ensure we have sufficient coverage to meet the growing demand for this excellent programme that addresses grief and loss. We work with Rev Sandra Williams from the Uniting Church in Levin who now offers training and companioning in the Levin area.
Game On Men’s Parenting – our much-needed programme, which transforms families’ lives, is run in collaboration with Greenstone Doors. Each organisation brings a qualified staff member to the programme. However, Duncan Holland, who volunteers as a senior facilitator, has trained all members of the team. Game On now runs in the Hutt Valley, Wellington and Levin. To be able to offer this programme to more men and to address the trauma many have faced in their lives, CSS needs to employ a therapist. We estimate in the next financial year we will need to raise $140,000 to support this programme expansion.
Refugee Resettlement Project – this important project, which welcomes refugees by turning houses into homes, has been running since 2015 with the support of many committed volunteers and parish communities. The programme was originally coordinated by a CSS staff member. Now we have two committed volunteers Vera Wennekers and Mercy Viveros Angulo who lead and coordinate this project in collaboration with the Anglican Movement. The number of former refugees arriving in Wellington from the Mangere Refugee Centre is 83 so far this year. More arrivals will continue next year.
Women’s Friendship Project – runs in collaboration with Changemakers Resettlement Forum and has been established to address issues of isolation and loneliness. We have joined with several locally connected women who have given their time to befriend women from refugee backgrounds. Each day we hear of more and more people feeling isolated and alone. We have identified this project as a real and growing need in our communities. For CSS to develop this project to meet the needs of people who are lonely, we will need to employ a volunteer coordinator. We will need to raise $80,000 to support this growth.
Visit kotahitanga-appeal.my.canva.site/ to read more about CSS volunteers.
You can help
CSS needs to ensure we have resources to pay for volunteer expenses, to employ qualified staff and maintain resources to ensure our work is carried out safely and sustainably.
Our third approach involves you. Your gift to the Kotahitanga Annual Appeal helps fulfil our mission to reach out and serve those on the margins. There is great suffering and need in our local communities. Together, in unity and through collective action, we can make a real difference in our local communities.
Please make a gift of any amount on our Donate Page at:
wn-catholicsocialservices.org.nz/donate or donate directly to our bank account 02-0560-0213864-00 with your Surname and Initials, Code CSS23, and contact Phone Number.