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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 37 No. 3. March 20, 1974

Newtown Community Centre — Needs Help!

page 8

Newtown Community Centre

Needs Help!

(Photo by Hilary Watson)

Children outside the centre

The results of several years work by the Newtown Community Centre is shown in the number of services it now offers. A free Legal Advice Bureau, a Food Co-op (related to the varsity scheme), a contraception and VD advice service, a vaccination clinic, a children's playground and a welfare advice service are all now operating successfully.

The Centre's work is not aimed at simply catering for the problems of the community. The intention is to give the people of Newtown the opportunity and knowledge to conduct their own affairs. For this reason most of the workers are local people, often housewives who appreciate a job where they can work with the community.

That many of these people have moved on to form and staff other community services in Newtown is a striking example of the success of the centre. The Newtown Progressive Association has been reformed, a local branch of the Labour Party and a Tenant's Association have been started, and a new Schools Committee has been voted in to cater for the Maori and Polynesian majority in the primary schools.

Further services are still needed, as Newtown has for 50 years been the dumping ground for Government and local body institutions used by all of Wellington. The hospital, Athletic Park, the Newtown Park Stadium, the zoo etc successfully cater for Greater Wellington, but leave a gap for purely local facilities. For instance, children's recreational facilities have been lacking as it was felt that young children could use the large sports stadium. The Adventure Playground is being built to help fill this need, and a local health centre is required.

The Community Centre will continue to be staffed mainly by local people, but as they move into these other projects, a continuous influx of outside workers is required. To get them, the centre is running a recruiting drive this week. Little training is normally needed for workers, as anyone can do the work. The most important requirement of staff is that they are able to relate to the people they work with.

David Robinson, the Wellington Community Services Officer, says that Newtown, where he lives, has a very different feeling from suburbs like Ponsonby. Newtown people don't aim to move out to a "better" area as soon as they can afford to. They are painting and renovating their houses, and they want to stay.

Newtown headquarters

Newtown headquarters

Some of the credit for building up a lasting sense of community in Newtown must go to the Community Centre. To enable it to carry on its work, more help is needed all the time. If you want to give them a hand, or find out more about it, ring 893-813 or call at 46 Constable Street.

David Robinson

David Robinson