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LAST MEETING:  Ron Vink, Te Whare Tape Trust
It can be very hard to pick yourself up by your own bootstraps if you have no bootstraps, let alone boots. If you are really down and out you could end up in prison where you would be warm and fed, but there is a gap in the social security system just above that, where people, most often men, find they are trapped. It might be because of a failed relationship or redundancy or for a variety of reasons, but there are many homeless people living on the streets and sleeping rough or living in their cars who are unable to clamber out of their situations.
Ron Vink runs the Te Whare Tape Trust to help such people. With a happy family of wife, three daughters and seven grand-daughters and after a successful career in property, Ron decided to help set up the trust five years ago. It helps in several ways.
It is a one-hectare urban farm in Upper Hutt plus six "farmlets" on spare land around the Valley. The farms produce a wide variety of organic vegetables which the Trust uses to provide food bags with sufficient produce to feed a family for a week. These produce bags cost $35 but the trust sells them for $20 each to struggling families.
It has three residential buildings, two with a resident warden to accommodate men and help them adjust or re-adjust to society before moving into their own homes.
The aim is to prepare them  for (re)employment, and 75% of the men who participated in the programme do go on to gainful employment.
The trust has seven paid staff and numerous volunteers, including some of the men in the programme to run the farms and other activities. It relies on funds from MSD, certain philanthropic trusts, and other donations but always needs more. It works closely with Supergrans, Women's Refuge, Corrections and other agencies.
In particular, Ron is looking for:
  • Mentors, male or female, to work with the men, perhaps with a skill or activity, or just as a role model
  • Property investors to provide good, cheap, subsidised housing
  • People or organisations to sponsor one (or more) of the $35 food bags to the tune of $15, i.e., the cost to the recipient to be $20.
Ron explained the work of the trust in a most interesting way, and it is certainly helping to fill an urgent social need. It is not the only organisation working in this area but there is still a need for more. The Trust has been active for five years and is hoping to continue and to expand.
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