AFTER more than three years of serving the Invercargill community, South Alive manager Cressida Evans is flying the coop – but will not be leaving the community behind.
After working in different places across the world, Ms Evans was drawn back to her home-town of Invercargill three-and-a-half years ago to work as a support mechanism for the community. Ready for a change, she recently accepted a role at SouthRoads Invercargill Highway South.
With just one more day left in her role at South Alive, she had reflected on the successes of her time in the position and the social connections built along the way.
When asked what project she was most proud of during her time, Ms Evans said she loved being able to connect with people on the new South Alive building which included The Pantry and adjoining meeting rooms.
“We worked with the community on what they wanted for the space and allowed them to take ownership of how it evolved.
“It brought a lot of people in the community out of the woodwork we hadn’t met before and many of them have had a lot of success using the space.”
She said the project had worked out so well that South Alive were having to turn people away who wanted to book rooms, which was a “good problem” to have.
“It’s been used for purposes we didn’t even envisage and we’ve had so many groups through here.”
Some of the smaller projects she was proud of being a part of included the Night Markets and the “Human Library”, she said.
She said the idea for the night markets came from her experience living in Tauranga where they were a “huge thing”.
“I wanted to find a way for different cultures and their foods to come together and be shared with the community, it offered people in Invercargill a chance to get out there and connect and engage with each other.”
The human library was launched late last year with the idea to try to build social connections within the community.
“We wanted to encourage people to realise they all have a story to tell, so we asked six people to be the books and asked the community to come and hear their stories – it was really cool and we had great feedback.”
She said the best part of the job was getting to meet the community.
“It’s an amazing community down here, a really hard-working and proud community, it’s just been amazing to see people thrive.
“We’ve had a couple of people in particular who have come in and been quite shy or didn’t know anyone and we’ve encouraged them to be brave and try something they’re passionate about.”
She said seeing some people “really blossom” on their journey was one of the things she was most proud of.
“I’m still working with the community in my new role, just with a different signature. Plus it’s Invercargill, it’s a small place, you never really leave a job.”