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Community cash for youth group

A new youth space opening on Featherston’s main street has received a welcome funding boost from the local community.

The $440 cash injection is thanks to a youth group giving the winning presentation at a Feed for Funds event at Featherston Community Centre, held on May 10.

Naliyah Namana, Taizak Walker, and Tahlia Steedman from Wairarapa Whānau Trust [WWT] successfully pitched their idea of a youth hub to an audience of about 30 locals at the micro-funding event.

The prize pot was generated by the audience, who each paid $10 in exchange for a hot soup supper and a vote.

Also competing for the prize money was a community garden, Wairarapa Moana Trails Trust, and Featherston Beautification Group.

Steedman, youth development worker and team leader with WWT, said young people need more spaces in which to belong and build connections.

“Young people have skills and gifts but often need a platform for that wisdom to be heard,” Steedman said.

“This will be a space down the main street where they can discover their talents and gifts, and where there’ll be regular workshops and activities.”

The hub’s home will be in Common Ground, a new creative and wellbeing space on Fitzherbert St. Holly Winterwood, who runs Common Ground with husband Zac, is excited about sharing the space with the young people.

“We just want to support creative endeavours in the community,” she said.

Youth leader Namana hoped the money would go towards making the youth hub feel more homely, with items such as beanbags, snacks and drinks, and musical instruments on the shopping list.

Walker, a youth worker for WWT, understands the value of safe, welcoming spaces for rangatahi. As a teen, he attended youth groups in Featherston which helped “turn [his] life around”.

“I used to get up to mischief when I was younger,” Walker said.

“Instead of going out on the streets and being an egg, I would go to Alan [Maxwell – youth leader at the time] and say, ‘Hey, you got any food?’ And no matter what, he’d say, ‘I’m here’. From that, I kept going and grew into being a youth leader.”

Feed for Funds is a collaboration between community-led development organisation Fab Feathy and the Featherston Community Centre.

For Hana Makin, Fab Feathy community facilitator and one of the Feed for Funds organisers, the benefit of the event goes beyond the money.

“The win is to speak to a room full of members of your community. These groups don’t often shout about how great they are – and this is an opportuanity to tell their community about what they do.”

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