Over the 30 years since it opened, Cambridge Community House has seen demand for its services grow, and grow, and grow.
“There’s been a large increase in the number of people seeking us out,” says Community House Manager Nicki de Reus. “Cambridge is growing rapidly, and people face many housing and financial pressures at the moment.”
Among the house’s most sought-after services are its drug and alcohol, and family violence counselling, as well as its more generic counselling services for grief, relationship troubles and other issues that people face. The budgeting service also experiences consistent demand.
Unlike most community houses, Cambridge Community House provides most of its services directly.
“We’re closer to a health and social services agency in the way we operate,” says Nicki. “We’re also the only organisation offering these services in Cambridge and the surrounding rural areas. A lot of people depend on us.”
Foodbank referrals, and food and petrol voucher distribution, parenting programmes, adult literacy tuition, support for elderly clients and those with disabilities and mental health issues, and probation and community service supervision are some of the many other services available.
One service to really take off in the past year has been the uniform exchange. People donate un-needed school uniforms to the community house; other families can then take them home for their children. The cost is a koha, but only if families can afford it. The service has proved so popular, that the house had to build additional storage to hold all the donated uniforms.
Nicki attributes the community house’s popularity to its welcoming atmosphere. “We’re warm and cluttered, just like a home,” she says.
But with all these services, the community house needs extra space, and is about to look into how it can extend its facilities for the future.
Trust Waikato donated $12,000 towards Cambridge Community House Trust’s operating costs in 2015/2016, as part of a three year multi-year donation.