Helping West Auckland Youth
Zeal’s youth facility near West Wave is well known in Henderson but this youth oriented organisation isn’t so well known for its work with young people (like Mara in the video above) on West Auckland’s streets.
Zeal’s Street Youth Work (SYW) team and partners work with young people who ‘fallen through the cracks’ in the system, with the use of alcohol, synthetic drugs and cannabis, along with loitering, vandalism, fighting and petty crime being prevalent issues in their lives.
Zeal received $50,000 from The Trusts’ Million Dollar Mission to help fund its work on our streets. Zeal recognizes that the most vulnerable young people, often homeless, burdened with huge emotional or health issues and active in crime, can slip through the net of many agencies. These call for ‘high-demand’ relationships which usually involve deeper, intrinsic links with whanau and family. It is these young people who Zeal reaches out to, they are committed to working as part of a multi-agency approach to help these youths find a sense of belonging and get back on track.
About Zeal’s Street Youth Work Initiative
The SYW initiative is aimed at enhancing the personal safety of West Auckland’s young people leading to positive social outcomes as well as creating a stronger social infrastructure in the area. Through the provision of a consistent presence of youth workers in the streets, young people feel safe and connected leading to an improvement in their pro-social behaviour. Ultimately, overall community safety is improved, ensuring a better environment for everyone living in or visiting West Auckland.
The initiative also has the added benefit of connecting youth to supportive youth agencies in West Auckland. With this type of coordinated approach, the youth sector works together to reduce antisocial behaviour, under aged drinking and increase youth engagement in pro-social activities.
Working in pairs, Zeal’s Street Youth Work team members are often out during late afternoons and evenings, meeting with young people in a social, friendly way, but always mindful of the need to minimise social harms including drug and alcohol use, street bullying, isolation, loitering and petty crime.
Trained through Zeal, the SYW team works collaboratively with other youth services providing guidance to young people, offering constructive activities, alternatives to loitering or causing disturbances in the town centre. The team also connects disengaged and disaffected young people to support services and also to Zeal’s youth facility where they can be encouraged to take part in one of the many programmes and activities, or just hang-out in a safe environment.
But the trouble hot spots are constantly moving, often away from Henderson town centre to adjacent suburbs. By collaborating with youth agencies Ranui 135, Glen Eden Baptists Youth and Generation Ignite, Zeal has been able to gain greater reach, more flexibility, responsiveness and enhanced the effectiveness of their work.
Their consistent presence on West Auckland’s streets means it is often the young person who now seeks out these youth workers. By building familiarity and trust, the team gets to hear young people’s stories, and are better able to meet their needs.
They encourage the positive connections the young person already has, including their connection to other service providers. In addition, they have been able to intervene and de-escalate situations by applying their youth work training, and where necessary, refer situations onto the Police.
Young people interacting with the team has undoubtedly increased youth and public safety. A consistent presence in the afternoon directly contributes to a safer Henderson. The team have succeeded in:
• Deterring under-aged youth from anti-social behaviour and/or substance abuse by offering viable alternatives: hanging-out, learning programmes and music events at Zeal’s youth facility
• De-escalating situations that could have otherwise become violent
• Guiding young people to engage with the Police when they have been attacked
• Assisting vulnerable young people in getting home safely
• Referring young people to appropriate support services.
We are proud to support Zeal through Million Dollar Mission – which is just one of the ways we give back to West Auckland.