The dream to build New Zealand’s first purpose-built ‘one-stop-shop’ for youth health and wellbeing has moved a major step closer to reality today, with the project approved for Resource Consent.
“We are absolutely thrilled with this wonderful news” says Youth Hub Trust Chair Dame Sue Bagshaw. “This is the green light we’ve been hoping and waiting for to begin the next exciting phase in the project’s development. We are so enthusiastic about what the Hub will deliver for young people in this city, many of whom have been through so much in the past decade, from earthquakes to the mosque attack and now Covid-19.”
Once built, the Youth Hub – Te Hurihanga Ō Rangatahi – will be a communal place of growth, support and wellbeing for 10-25 year olds. Based in the heart of central Christchurch, it will provide support services including access to catch-up education, healthcare, mental health counselling, vocational training, recreation and employment. Uniquely, the development will provide onsite, purpose-built accommodation for up to 40 young people aged 16-24 years, in need. Most will stay from 3-18 months at a time, providing they are involved in formal education or actively looking for work.
“We hope they will transition from the planned shared hostel rooms into our 3-bedroom townhouses, where they’ll be given mental and social support from qualified, live-in residential staff. They’ll learn cooking, cleaning and social living skills to help them progress to a future independent flatting environment” says Dame Sue. “The Hub will support them to achieve their true potential, especially those moving from Oranga Tamariki state care into the community.”
The centre will provide space for about 12 different youth organisations including 298 Health Centre, YouthLine, Qtopia and the Christchurch City Mission, providing a one-stop-shop for essential services.
The acre of land on Salisbury Street was specifically purchased for the project by Anglican Care and will be leased back to the Youth Hub Trust to build and run the facility.
Mental Health Promotion Strategist for the Mental Health Foundation/CDHB All Right? Programme Ciaran Fox, says the Hub will be a place not just for help but for hope.
“There’s serious pressure on mental health services in our city and a growing understanding that we need more,” says Fox. “It’s exciting that our youth in need will soon have a safe place to visit where they’ll be fully respected and supported to find the resources and develop the resilience they need. We hope this support will also serve as a preventative measure to stop mental health issues escalating in our most vulnerable young people. The Hub will show our youth that ‘this city believes in you’.”
Resource Consent approval comes just weeks after another positive win for the ambitious project – a $10 million dollar kick-start from the government’s $3 billion Covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund, set aside for shovel-ready projects.
“That generous investment is around half of what we ultimately need to make the Youth Hub a reality,” says Dame Sue. “We’re now going full-steam-ahead to fundraise the rest.”
The Hub has been carefully designed to fit into its local surroundings with involvement from acoustic, traffic engineering, urban design and landscaping experts. Neighbours have been consulted, with the design adjusted to address concerns. Although Resource Consent has been granted, affected parties have until the end of November to lodge an appeal.
Young people were purposefully included in the initial design process and Dame Sue Bagshaw is now calling on the city’s youth to step up once again.
“We know that mental health is improved by helping others and we now need all the help we can get from young people in terms of collaborating with us on the interior design and function of the Youth Hub. It will be their space after all, and their input is vital and warmly encouraged.”