Paul Hunter Centre
Based in Waipukurau, Central Hawke’s Bay, the Paul Hunter Centre is a not-for profit organisation that supports people with all types of disabilities to lead independent lives – under their control and by their choice.
“The Centre aims to facilitate the achievement of maximum potential by providing a service that assists individuals to have the same positive outcomes as their peers,” says Centre Manager Katrina Jamieson.
“We also work toward increasing independence and integration into the community,” says Katrina.
The Centre’s location reflects this commitment to community integration; situated close to the town’s main street it provides easy access to local facilities such as the indoor swimming pool and gym.
“The Centre offers its 26 clients a variety of programmes and activities designed to build confidence and self-esteem, develop a sense of belonging, and assist those who have the desire to gain the necessary skills and experience to move into work in the wider community,” says Katrina.
These activities include a life skills programme, recreation and sports, art & craft, computing, woodwork, cooking, and the maintenance of a large vegetable and fruit garden.
“One of our assets is our large grounds, which our clients enjoy, and the gardens are a testament to how much they value this space. There is a tunnel house that has been erected and which is used to grow hydroponic vegetables. The produce is shared with our clients and their families,” says Katrina.
Community participation sees the Centre’s client’s link in with local services for sporting and social activities, gain work experience – both voluntary and paid, and sell their craft work and other items made at the Centre at local market days and fairs.
The Centre was established in 1994, by a group of community minded individuals, who felt there was a need for a centre for people with disabilities in the community. For the first few years it operated under the umbrella of the Disability Resource Centre (Hawkes Bay). Katrina joined the Centre as Manager in 1996, and has seen many changes during her time at the helm.
“I came on board with no experience of working with people with disabilities, just lots of theories,” she says. “I knew that working in the Disability Sector was going to be challenging, but due to a family member being involved in a life changing accident, and suffering severe head injuries, I was passionate about helping others”.
For many years the Centre’s main focus was on sheltered workshop based activities. Then in 2001, Pathways to Inclusion lead to the Centre completely overhauling its core services.
“Since then the Centre has gone from strength to strength, and become increasingly well-known and respected for the services it provides to the local community,” says Katrina.
On a personal note Katrina says; “During my time at the Centre, I have seen numerous changes, in the sector itself and the way our service operates. I have worked alongside some wonderful people, all of whom have been committed to helping people with disabilities. I have seen my clients experience wonderful things in their lives, and sadly, experienced the loss of several long term clients over the years.
“Being the Manager of the Centre has enabled me to travel around New Zealand for conferences and training; given me the opportunity to meet some inspiring people and presented me with some wonderful life experiences,” concludes Katrina.