March represented our second full month leading the Together We Are Avondale (TWAA) project. The highlight was running our first event, a Neighbour’s Day BBQ on Taramea St supported by several other community groups active in our area. Read on for more details about the BBQ as well as a bit of what else we’ve been up to the past month.
Neighbour’s Day – Taramea St
One of the first ideas for TWAA was to collaborate with the Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) on delivering a community BBQ for Neighbour’s Day. The police identified Taramea St and Bellgrove Pl as two places that would benefit the most from a safe and family friendly night as they’ve both had a few problems recently. Leilani coordinated both events and successfully managed to pull together a great team to support the March 30th BBQ on Taramea – TYLA, ACA, the NPT, Sport Waitakere, Community Waitakere, Whau Youth Board and The Village Trust all contributed in important ways.
About 60-80 people came through on the night, most deliberately and others passing by that saw/heard what was happening and came for a look. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive with people appreciative of the free food and entertainment, especially for the kids. A few people I spoke with expressed hope that it would become a regular thing – something I know the NPT is keen on.
For us, the BBQ was a great chance to introduce ourselves and TWAA, while getting some feedback from locals in the process. Thanks heaps to everyone that came out or helped out. To see more pictures check out our Facebook post here.
Late-March we went around Avondale town centre picking up litter with a crew of streeties, led by Constable Tony Tatupu of the NPT. The initiative is called Avondale Community Engagement Services (ACES) and it’s been going for over a month now. Every Monday morning, street people are invited to chuck on a high-viz and pick up litter for about 2 hours. In exchange, they get a feed of chop suey thanks to Island Diamond Takeaways on Rosebank Rd and a Pak n Save voucher each.
Talking to the brothers there, a key benefit on top of the food is the feeling of self-worth they get from cleaning up Avondale. Everyone I spoke with was a massive supporter of what Tony’s doing; so much so that Manuel, who recently got off the streets here and into accommodation near K’ Rd, even biked all the way to Avondale that morning just to get involved.
It was also insightful getting a glimpse into some of the guys’ lives. Some are battling addiction and health problems on top of sleeping rough, and finding work is difficult if you have a criminal record or no fixed abode. Besides a roof over their heads, the guys identified food as the next most important need. It’s this kind of feedback that has encouraged TWAA to initiate a programme called Feed the Streets that will not only provide the streeties with food – and eventually the wider community – but also gives them an opportunity to learn valuable skills and connect with relevant services.
TWAA, ACA, Community Waitakere and Auckland Council have been working behind-the-scenes on a plan to revamp and revitalise the Central Reserve (otherwise known as the old netball courts near the spider). This site has been identified for several reasons: to build on the momentum generated by the new basketball court and bike park before that; it’s on centrally-located public land; council supports its development; and there is already some funding available. TWAA is playing a minor role in the process at this stage, sitting back soaking in the conversations between the other parties involved as they get to grips with what the limitations are before opening it up to public input.
Advisory Group Meeting
Midway through March, we held our first Advisory Group meeting at the Rosebank Peninsula Church (read more here). The purpose of these meetings is for stakeholders in our community to have ongoing input into the direction of Together We Are Avondale and to support us with their own networks and resources. It’s also an opportunity for those in attendance to connect with each other and support other initiatives going on. Since the meeting was held we helped connect Avondale Primary with Pusi Urale who spoke at their recent Pasefika Fono; Cain Tattoo has donated $250 towards the Whau Youth Awards; Marcus from Cain has been in discussion with Sue and Pirrie from the Haven Foundation over a micro enterprise initiative; and Melissa from Encounter Christian Centre has come onboard to help build our Feed the Streets initiative.