Connecting neighbourhoods: Sal vation Army Queenstown’s Andrew Wilson’s planning to use Connecting Communities’ funding to help organ ise localised street parties

A record $100,000 has been distributed to community-led wellbeing initiatives and events across the Southern Lakes in the eighth and final Connecting Communities funding round.

Te Hau Toka Southern Lakes Wellbeing Group launched the fund — supported by the government’s ‘Tourism Communities: Support, Recovery and Re-Set Plan’ — in November, 2021, as part of its efforts to combat the ongoing mental health impacts of Covid.

Since then, the group’s distributed more than $500,000 to 556 groups across Queenstown, Wānaka, Cromwell and Te Anau/Fiordland.

Group chair Adell Cox says the last funding round was spread across 117 groups, each receiving up to $1000, to facilitate activities that help people connect, look after themselves and each other, and have some fun.

Recipients include Queenstown’s Salvation Army, which will use the funding for localised street parties to help strengthen neighbourhoods, particularly in areas where there’s a higher-than-average residential turnover.

Community Ministries director Andrew Wilson says housing remains the biggest issue facing our community, which causes stress, uncertainty and transiency.

‘‘There are a number of initiatives under way to address this very complex issue but, in the meantime, we … have the opportunity to rally together and foster those qualities that enhance individual and community resilience.’’

He says the Sallies will partner with localised neighbourhoods, using their experience, connections and relationships to get street parties up and running.

Ahead of Te Hau Toka’s government funding ending on June 30, Cox says Connecting Communities has been inspiring and rewarding, generating positivity in the face of adversity.

An independent evaluation, being released next month, shows it’s been one of the most successful initiatives Te Hau Toka’s been involved with.

‘‘The key is giving people the power to find their own solutions because they’re best placed to know what their community needs and what works for them,’’ Cox says.

A full recipient list is available online.

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