by ROWENA OREJANA
Catholic Social Services Auckland opened its bigger base at Otara on February 19, its “hub” for providing faith-based social services in South Auckland.
CSS Director John Metherell said the move is part of the agency’s plan to work more closely with parishes and communities to maximise resources and reach more people in need.
“This will be a hub for us in south Auckland to work not only in Otara but also in Mangere and Manurewa. It provides us with a central location in an area where there is high need and [which] people can access,” he said.
The bigger base in Otara will also enable the agency to collaborate with people in the communities.
“It’s a two-way thing. They can refer people to us who come to them and we can provide support back to the parish,” he said. Catholic Social Services started its outreach services in Otara within the premises of St John the Evangelist parish with the help of parish priest Fr Brian Prendeville. The increased need for their service meant finding ways to respond within their limited means. “There is an increase in the work that we have received, but obviously we are a small organisation. We see ourselves as a part of the diocesan effort and we work with the diocese much more than we [used to],” said Mr Metherell.
The agency is networking with Monte Cecilia as well as St Vincent de Paul and De Paul House and other nonCatholic organisations. It also established relationships with Auckland and Waitemata District Health Boards, church and community leaders, to stop violence in Pacific communities. Auckland diocese general manager Kerry Coleman said the move is a significant step for the agency. “I see it as the beginning of a new strategic direction for Catholic Social Services, getting back closer to the traditional roots of Catholic Social Services of yesteryear when it was influential and the leading caregiver to those who are marginalised and needing support,” said Mr Coleman. Catholic Social Services’ south Auckland outreach provides help around housing, domestic violence as well as budgeting, said Mr Metherell. “We’ve got professional and trained people who’ve done a tremendous job and are committed to the work. It’s important that our people are not only professionally trained but are faith-based because, for a lot of people in south Auckland, that’s the starting point, really,” explained Mr Metherell. “There has to be a spiritual component because a lot of people come from
that sort of background,” he stressed. “That, in a way, is our point of difference: a faith-based professional social service where we have trained staff providing effective interventions.”