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Living Well Trust’s youth and families programmes director Michael Wilkes. Photo: KELLEY TANTAU

Youth work needs $40k to start ‘afresh’ in ‘24

This year, the Living Well Trust in Thames has had to work harder than ever to find adequate funding for its youth work.
It is still dealing with a $40,000 deficit, and without the funds, tamariki benefitting from the additional support might face a future without it.
Michael Wilkes, who is the trust’s youth and families programmes director, said in a perfect world, regular funding would provide the trust with the security to focus “purely on the youth work”.
On the flipside, if the work of the trust fell over due to lack of funds, more kids would miss out.
“The feedback from kids and parents is that they see massive boosts [from the programmes]. Because we’re doing preventative work, it’s really hard to quantify, but I think we would potentially see and hear a little bit more tragedy of kids deciding that life is too hard,” Michael said.
The Living Well Trust falls under the banner of Thames Baptist Community Ministries, and not only does it offer resilience programmes for Year 7 and 8, and Year 11 and 12 students, it also has a 24-7 youth work partnership initiative.
Michael said the financial situation the trust had found itself in was due to “a number of factors”.
The first was the current financial downturn which has seen less available funding available from philanthropic grants; the second being the storms at the start of the year which had “rightly reallocated” funding to support storm-damaged areas; and thirdly, the funding that was available for mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic had ended, while wellbeing issues continued.
“Realistically, the $40k is me going: ‘Here’s a gap from this year, let’s fill that’, but next year, I’ve got to find all the funding to cover everything we’re doing anyway,” Michael said.
“So this is just trying to make it so that we can start the year afresh.”
Michael has launched a Givealittle page to try cover some of the costs, with $8,600 already donated to the cause.
Any money raised will be spent to ensure the trust comes into 2024 “strong and secure” in order to continue building resilience and strengthening the well-being of young people. Costs include staff wages, equipment, resources, and overheads.
“In terms of schools, it’s pretty much an open door. Schools want us in their space and they see huge benefits in their students,” Michael said.
“We are working with every school in Thames and most in Paeroa. It would be a shame to end due to funding issues.”
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