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‘Now is the time to act’: Fundraising drive for Christchurch Youth Hub

The fundraising campaign for a Christchurch youth hub heralded as a game-changer for vulnerable young people kicks off next month with a benefit concert.

An estimated $10 million needs to be raised for the project, which will bring mental health, medical and social support services together on a site purchased by Anglican Care on Salisbury St.

In a New Zealand-first, the services will sit beside temporary housing for 25 young people. Youth Hub Trust chairwoman and long-term youth health advocate Dr Sue Bagshaw said the project would be hugely beneficial.

“We need to stop talking about suicide and poor health outcomes for our region’s young people – now is the time to act,” she said.

“I’m hoping that the whole place will be therapeutic in lots of different ways, from creativity and recreation, right through to counselling and specific therapies.”

In his early 20s, Puffin started going to Bagshaw’s 198 Youth health centre. At the time, he said he was an “androgynous glam-rocker” going through an exciting yet vulnerable time developing his identity.

“There was this weight to conform, to fit this sliver of the bell curve that was the Canterbury mould, especially the Canterbury guy, and I wasn’t that,” he said.

Puffin said he accessed counselling services at the centre, but it was also a place where he and others went because they felt a sense of belonging and acceptance.

“Being able to be yourself and feel free in that way was just such a relief,” he said, adding the planned youth hub, Te Hurihanga O Rangatahi, would offer the same support.

The concert, in the Charles Luney Auditorium at St Margaret’s College, features an eclectic lineup including folk-rock act The Eastern, the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, Julia Deans and comedy magician Brendan Dooley.

Bagshaw said the trust wanted to raise the required funds in three years, but the build would be staggered as money came in.

The youth hub would bring together specialist youth services that used to operate side-by-side on Barbadoes St, including Bagshaw’s 298 Youth Health centre, an employment agency and The White Elephant Trust.

With the temporary housing component, Bagshaw said the hub would provide wraparound care to help prevent mental health issues from establishing and escalating.

“This youth hub will truly be the answer – we need to get good people working together to help our young people and provide them with a brighter future.”

Stuff revealed this month children and teenagers were waiting an average of 35 days to access public mental health services as the district health board grappled with high referral numbers.

​One young person waited a year for a follow-up appointment. Bagshaw said increased rates of mental health issues was a worldwide phenomenon, which reflected the pace of modern life.

Young people who grew up with the earthquakes were vulnerable to additional anxiety, and early intervention was crucial to prevent issues worsening, she said.

“We’re there to provide a whānau for kids who perhaps haven’t had the best [one],” Bagshaw said.

Tickets to the variety concert cost $70 through Eventfinda.

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