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Big cheque for refuge

Those who spent this year sleeping rough in Masterton might not have to suffer another winter in the cold, thanks to a significant community grant committed to the Kim’s Way Night Refuge.

The Department of Internal Affairs [DIA] has approved an $80,000 grant from the Wellington and Wairarapa Lottery Community Fund to go toward the refuge’s renovation, future security and employing a co-ordinator.

Community advisor at DIA Winifred Mahowa said that with her support, the refuge applied for a grant from the funding pool.

“Community grants are available for not-for-profit organisations with a community or social service focus,” Mahowa said.

“They’re for ongoing operating costs or projects which help improve the quality of people’s lives in their communities.”

Project coordinator Lyn Tankersley was thrilled with the grant approval, describing it as a dream come true.

“Our committees spend most of its time talking about how we can get money and it’s a real mission most of the time,” Tankersley said.

“They approached us, which is fantastic.”

Tankersley said this was thanks to Mahowa seeing a story from the Times-Age [sharing an update on the refuge’s status] and assisting with the funding process.

It was initially thought that the refuge would open earlier this year but, due to ongoing consenting processes and necessary renovation, it is not yet ready for operation.

Tankersley said that due to her previous work at Masterton’s foodbank and other social initiatives, she knew many people who would benefit from the refuge.

“I get upset when I go and see them [homeless]. There’s about five of them sleeping in a car at the park at the moment,” said Tankersley.

Another person Tankersley knew of used to sleep under a bridge and by a drain just off Queen St, and she said when the refuge is operational, it will act as a shelter for people with nothing else.

The refuge has been a culmination of volunteers and gifted materials, and while Lyn said there is a long way to go, she was in awe of how many people wanted to contribute.

“Masterton is the most amazing, good community. There’s lots of people who want to help.”

Although the DIA grant would be a considerable help, Tankersley said she was still on the lookout for people who would be able to help with donations.

“You might not be able to give us hundreds of dollars, but you might be able to give us $10 a week for 12 months,” Tankersley said.

“Money coming in every week paying for power, little bits and pieces we need to pay for along the road.

“So that’s just as important as huge lump grants.”

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Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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