WITH a goal to “support each other in supporting others”, the Fiordland Wellbeing Collective is making it easier for Southlanders to connect with their community.
One of the Fiordland Wellbeing Collective’s founding members Mariska Hesselink said it all started in December last year.
“To support each other in supporting others, we started a monthly coffee group,” she said.
Made up of community members working in wellbeing, or who were passionate about developing access to mental health support in the area, the collective met once a month to “check in” with each other, Ms Hesselink said.
“When we come together, we check in with each other’s wellbeing, share skills, knowledge and resources and ensure we all have a good understanding of each other’s roles to utilise as needed, and assist us to work cohesively.”
A major intention for the collective was to try to increase the mental health support in the community by “reducing barriers for people to reach out”, so help was more accessible, she said.
“We can also help connect people to options available locally for ongoing support.”
A free and confidential service, members of the collective included mainly Te Anau-based school counsellors, an occupational therapist, a health coach, a family and youth worker, yoga instructors, reiki practitioners, massage therapists, a ayurvedic practitioner, as well as carers and listeners with experience.
Ms Hesselink said the collective had flyers delivered to the Fiordland community during lockdown, with members’ photos, names, phone numbers and inspirational quotes.
It also posted on Fiordland-based online groups and in the Fiordland Families Network Newsletter.
The response so far had been “positive and well received by the community”, she said.
“[It’s] reassuring that any kind of positivity and support that is put out there has a ripple effect on the whole community.
“We know how important it can be for peoples’ wellbeing to have the opportunity to connect or talk.”
Ms Hesselink said the collective would allow people to share their stories and “identify and break vicious cycles and transform them into positive growth”.
“We would like people to know that they are not alone, you don’t have to do everything on your own, reach out for support and share your story.”