Local hub takes double hit

There are fears for the Corstorphine Community Hub after its popular Thursday soup kitchen shut last week.

Community hub users said the soup kitchen was closed due to lack of funding for a supervisor and because one of the key organisers, Moana Taana, had to rush to Christchurch after her son Pape Taana (10) was diagnosed with leukaemia.

The hub's Tuesday playgroup is still running.

Corstorphine community activist and author Lynley Hood said the hub had suffered a double blow - losing its ''mainstay'' at the same time as Dunedin Kindergartens ''pulled the funds'' for a childcare worker at the hub on Thursdays.

The loss of two key people had an immediate impact, with the soup kitchen - which had been feeding about 80 people - no longer operating, she said.

''It is such a great story about what has happened up there and absolutely devastating what has happened now.''

The ideal solution would be for some funding to be provided by one of the city's social agencies to allow the childcare worker to be retained, Dr Hood said.

The Corstorphine Community Hub is a Dunedin Kindergartens initiative. Its Tuesday whanau playgroup opened at the end of last year in the old Corstorphine School Hall.

Locals began running a soup kitchen at the hub on Thursdays this winter and had begun other initiatives, including a garden.

The sessions were frequented by social-service providers.

Dunedin Kindergartens holds the lease for the hub and makes one of its teachers available to run the Tuesday playgroup.

Dunedin Kindergartens administration manager Karen Fraser said funding flowed from the Ministry of Education to the playgroup via Dunedin Kindergartens.

The Thursday soup kitchen was completely separate from the Tuesday whanau playgroup, she said.

Dunedin Kindergartens' had helped start the soup kitchen, she said. She would not comment on the funding for the soup kitchen.

She was not aware that the soup kitchen had closed permanently and said it had not been open last Thursday because local people had not wanted it to be open as they had other things on their minds.

Hub user Brendon Noah said the hub had allowed locals to put aside their differences and work together.

''From day one, the people of this community have not asked for handouts but for a hand up and, with the help of the community hub, people have not only become more more confident within themselves but also [with] their surroundings,'' he said.

He hoped the hub would eventually be open every day.

Another user described the hub as a ''safe and honest place to unwind and reflect with support advice''.

Council of Social Services executive officer Alan Shanks had met with hub stakeholders to discuss fundraising options.

A major positive was that local people were behind the hub, he said.

jonathan.chilton-towle@thestar.co.nz

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