The December celebration at a centre created to help people, including people with disabilities and on low incomes, had its supporters breathing a sigh of relief – after four years, they had finally “come home”.
It was a great opportunity to thank everyone for their continued support.
The Thames Valley Tangata Ora Trust has been established in Thames to assist people with the navigation of systems in the health and disability, work and income and other social service sectors.
Its founders, Robyn Pengelly – who manages the organisation – and five trustees, all had both personal and professional experience in the health and social service sectors, and believed that this experience helped when it came to having empathy and understanding of the people they were there to serve.
The current chairperson, Herb Montague-Brown, is a retired doctor.
In 2008, Robyn founded the Thames Hauraki Health and Disability Resource Centre, and operated a showroom out of the current Tangata Ora premises at 607 Mackay Street.
The centre shut in June 2016.
Now, the creation of the Thames Valley Tangata Ora Trust meant they were able to “come home”.
“We are passionate about people’s rights to know what they’re entitled to, what the systems are, and to have justice in whatever it may be,” she said.
The trust has been supported over the years by Thames local Mary Taitoko, and long-time Patron, former Pak’N Save Thames owner Bill van Dammen.
Mr van Dammen said Robyn had been “the driving force” behind the organisation, and that there were now some “very smart people” on board.
“Now that we’re back in these premises opposite Thames Hospital, things are starting to take off. We’re starting to accumulate more products from various suppliers, we’re getting more volunteers, and we’ll just go from strength to strength,” he said.
“In the new year, the showroom will be full and the advocacy can start again and be helpful to everybody who needs help.”
Tangata Ora provided mobility products out of its showroom – the organisation’s “bread and butter”, Robyn said.
They plan to also provide other services such as meditation and mindfulness workshops led by Thames counsellor Ajita Grace, who is situated in the premises.
The centre is located at 607 Mackay St, Thames, and is open between the hours of 10am-3pm, Monday to Friday. After hours by arrangement.
The trust is looking for volunteers who have sales expertise and a proficient use of social media. Contact 07 868 7723 or email email@example.com.
By KELLEY TANTAU
PHOTO: Mary Taitoko , Robyn Pengelly, and Ajita Grace say the formation of the Thames Valley Tangata Ora Trust feels like “coming home”.