When you stroll through the central hub of the Wellington After-Care Association – ACE House, it’s easy to see why its members feel right at home.
No doubt this is due to there being such a vast array of activities on offer – to satisfy even the most discerning mind, but also due to the warm and supportive vibe of the staff at ACE House.
“Providing a supportive environment is very important for us, we want our members to feel welcomed, so they can in turn live life to their full potential,” General Manager Kervin Farr says.
Another way, they extend this invitation, is offering a number of community inclusion activities for those who want to take a more active part in their community.
“We have outings to the library and at one point we had a couple of people heading along to the gym, but one particular activity that has been going really well is a group that heads out to the Chocolate Fish Café every week.
“What’s been great about this is that not only does our crew really enjoy their time there, but they have also built a strong relationship with the staff, who always warmly greet them – by name.
“Although it has taken a wee while to build up this relationship, we think making these connections is very important, as not only are we supporting our members out and about, we also think it is a good way for the community to interact with us too,” Kervin says.
Although the activities structured around ACE House are a big part of the Association’s identity, being that has been around since 1928, it isn’t the only services the Association offers.
ACEmployment is another arm that keeps the Association busy, with them currently supporting 45 people in employment.
Introduced in 1996, the supported employment service is especially utilised by those with mental health, accounting for around 70% of those the Association supports.
Under this umbrella, the Association also offers their Expect Success programme, which helps school leavers’ transition from school to adult services.
Building up and utilising its networks in the community helps with this, and around two years ago the Association formed the Regional Well-being Alliance with four other Wellington mental health providers; Atareira, Kites Trust, Mix and Te Ara Korowai.
Not only has this allowed them to keep a hand in mental health issues within the Wellington region, following the closure of its two mental health services, it has also meant they have been able to be part of initiatives that help those with mental health move through barriers that may stop them from living fulfilling lives.
One such initiative has seen them take on fifth year medical students, as placements, within their supported employment service, so they can learn more about some of the barriers that those with mental health, face when working.
“I think this has been a really helpful exercise for some, and we are always pleased to see people taking an active interest in understanding the types of challenges those with mental health face when they head into employment,” Kervin says.
Another initiative they are running, in collaboration with two of their alliance partners, Te Ara Korowai and Mix, is a free Micro-enterprise programme after securing the funding to do so through the Frozen Funds Charitable Trust.
“We are really supportive of people setting up micro businesses – so it just made sense to be involved in setting up some workshops that offers support and guidance to anyone who is interested in learning more about this,” Kervin says.
The Association has also been happy to put their money where their mouth is, in relation to this, and currently supports three people who have set up their own micro business by contracting them to do various jobs around the organisation.
“We needed someone to help us out with these jobs, so what better way to show our support than to contract them for their services?”
“They are all doing a fantastic job and we are more than happy to support them, because essentially they are helping us out too,” Kervin says.
To find out more about the Wellington After-Care Association and to get in touch with them, visit their website: www.wgtnaftercare.org.nz