Linwood is a community in Christchurch with a high level of poverty. A monthly collaborative hub featuring the Christchurch Methodist Mission, NZ Police, Ministry of Education (MoE) and others is helping to turn lives around.
You Matter to Us. Four words that are making a huge difference to families in Linwood. It is also the name of a monthly hub that began over a year ago in response to the high number of domestic violence callouts Police were attending. Many of the families involved in the callouts had young children not attending early childhood education.
You Matter to Us focuses on families with children aged between 0 - 6 years and also features Aviva, Plunket, Christchurch City Libraries, Pegasus Health and Te Puna Waitanga. Linwood residents have direct access to the hub. Since the launch in June 2016 there has been a 35% drop in Police callouts in the community and 95% of children are now in early childhood education.
"The local mums are taking the lead," says Anne Gibling Team Leader of CMM's Community Response Team. "One mum in particular is turning her life around. She is in the process of getting her driver's license and is now learning a trade along with her son who was previously truant from school. She is so proud that she has the opportunity to make positive changes for her family."
A section in Linwood is being leased by Police and MoE. This has a community garden that the families take care of thanks to ARA Institute of Canterbury and Bunnings. A four square court was built so that local children aren't playing on the street.
Along with the monthly hub, special events such as a Super Hero Fun Day in October have been organised by CMM. These events bring people together and help reduce barriers. "There was between 150 - 200 people that attended the Fun Day," says Anne. "It was great to celebrate with the families that are part of You Matter to Us as well as other families from the wider community. A lot of dads came too which was really cool."
"The work in Linwood is all about getting people to know each other," adds Anne. "By building community people know their neighbours and that sense of isolation goes away. When people look out for each other that's when change happens. "
Photo Caption: Craig McDonald (NZ Police), Anne Gibling (CMM), Lynette Griffiths (Christchurch City Libraries), Shiree Ngatuere & Jade Pitman at the Super Hero Fun Day in October.