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Raglan House set to make connections

An internet café starting up next week, a youth workshop in May and an open day in June to connect community groups are all part of plans to bring Bow Street’s newly branded The Raglan House – formerly Raglan Community Centre – “into the 21st century”.

“Things are happening at The House,” PR adviser Chrissy Hodkinson told the Chronicle on Friday of the new ‘Connect Whaingaroa/Raglan’ initiatives. “While the community house of old has been a hub of activity since opening on site 15 years ago, The Raglan House is keen to work more collaboratively with other local groups to help us move forward”, she said.

“People in our community need to see what’s available here (in town),” Chrissy added, explaining the concept of the open day or expo to be held in the town hall on June 6. She’s calling now for local clubs and organisations to get involved by booking a stand, at no cost, to promote their activities.

It’s to be a non-commercial day, Chrissy pointed out, the sole purpose being to better support local residents. “The more connected our community is, the healthier and more resilient it can be.”

A new Youth Hub – Connect Youth – will be opening in the old Coastguard building by the Fire Station and will operate on a Thursday afternoon during term time from 3 – 7pm. The Youth Hub has emerged from the Ministry of Social Development social sector trials which have been conducted over the past two years in five towns including Raglan.

This age group had indicated in a survey that they didn’t feel they belonged in our community, said Chrissy. They cited a lack of both their own space and a voice amid the town’s growing tourism trade.

Local youth activities had been “very limited” in the past, Chrissy said, and including young people the ‘Connect Whaingaroa/Raglan’ campaign was important. We are working with Raglan Area School and the Ministry of Social Development and are keen to help foster, develop and support the youth in our community as much as we can.

At the other end of the age spectrum there’s a new IT initiative aimed primarily at older people – an internet café – starting next week and running on Monday, Thursday and Friday afternoons.

“We’ll see what the demand’s like,” said manager Sharon Tribe, who foresees the possible need to extend the time available for people to surf the net and check their emails. The computer sessions – relying on six new laptops which have come courtesy of a Lotteries grant – will be run on a koha basis for half hour time slots, she explains. A printer will be set up for users. She and Chrissy expect the facility to attract those older residents who don’t feel so comfortable using the computers downtown at the library or video shop which are often very busy.

There’s a plan too for the internet café to work in with area school students who might be available to connect with older users less familiar with information technology.

The Raglan House also has computer classes on Friday mornings for beginners, with a qualified IT instructor. At just $20 to register for the four-week blocks there was a “substantial demand”, said Sharon, and the classes were now booked through till September.

Meantime the Bargain Basement that operates beneath The Raglan House has had a recent upgrade which includes the provision of Eftpos facilities. The op shop was “hugely dependent” on the community for its supply of good quality stock, from clothing and crockery to books and bric-a-brac, said Chrissy.

“It’s our only source of untagged funding, and crucial to the sustainability of the community house.” New health services at The Raglan House this year – all of which can be accessed free – include both a social worker and drug and alcohol counsellor on Wednesdays, and a counsellor from the Rape and Sexual Abuse Healing Centre on Tuesdays.

A shoppers minibus service is also available on Tuesdays. People can be collected from their homes at around 9.30am and brought into town and then driven home again after their shopping or other business. This is a combined venture between The Raglan House, The Raglan Club, the Raglan RSA and SuperValue with funding support also coming from the Raglan Community Board. Phone the House on 8258142 to make a booking to use the bus – bookings must be made by Monday each week.

Edith Symes

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