Almost two-thousand people have walked through the doors at Westport’s Community Hub since it opened in August last year.

The Westport Flood Recovery Community Hub on Palmerston Street was set up to provide the community with a place to go for information and support (or to simply sit down for a cup of tea and a chat) after the July floods, and the subsequent February 2022 event.

At the hub, people can talk to the Community Navigators who, as their name suggests, can help people navigate the numerous supports that are out there.

In the months to April 2022, the largest number of visits (329) were from people seeking insurance advice and wanting to be connected to the Residential Advisory Service (RAS). RAS advisors also provided onsite information and upskilling for the Navigators and Hub staff.

More than 250 people had enquiries about the Mayoral Relief Fund, and almost 150 in relation to food vouchers (which are now only available through the Ministry of Social Development). Eighty-five enquiries were in relation to the Temporary Accommodation Service (TAS) which helps people who are out of their homes due to flood-damage or repairs.

During this time, navigators helped 118 people with support and advice. Almost a thousand other people visited over the seven months to April for a range of other reasons including questions about building (repairs and the red and yellow sticker process) and overall wellbeing.

Manager Social and Welfare Recovery Shayne Barry says the Navigators can help people apply for support if required, and/or steer them in the right direction, but they know the main thing they need to do is listen.

“People need to tell their story. Everyone is different. Some people need to come back for support more than once to keep working through their issue. Some people can’t talk about what they’ve gone through at all. At first, they struggle to speak, and it takes them a while to open up. Most of the time we know people just need to feel validated for what they’ve experienced, and what they might still be going through.”

Although the Buller Flood Recovery Team is scheduled to wind down in July, the Community Hub and Navigators will stay on until September to continue to support the flood-affected community. A plan will be developed for continued support to the community from September.

NEED HELP? PH 0800 768 348

All are welcome at The Community Hub. Whether you have been impacted directly, or are interested to learn more about the recovery effort, pop down to the community hub for a cuppa and a chin wag.

The Community Hub is open Monday to Friday from 9.30am-4.00pm. Phone 0800 768 348 for assistance outside normal opening hours.

Noho ora mai