ACROSS Te Kotahitanga o te Wairua is a faith-based community service in Palmerston North providing a wide range of services such as social work, counselling, strengthening families, bereavement support, self-esteem groups and community action initiatives.  It is a social service provider that works with tamariki, rangatahi, whānau and their partners, alongside local communities to co-design solutions to meet their needs.

Together Susan, Gale, Jenny and Banele are changing lives. Currently Banele is working with eight rangatahi from a local school who are facing significant challenges in life and at school. His energetic and engaging spirit sees rangatahi instantly warm to him and his role of developing individualised school plans that align with caregivers, community and if required, the Police and Oranga Tamariki is making a real difference in the lives of students who are fortunate enough to be assigned to him.

Banele’s role means he is able to allocate more time than other agencies may have to individual cases and it’s the time spent with students where the real learnings are gained. Having the opportunity to communicate what a whānau might be going through in a way that protects their confidentiality, but helps paint a picture for the school, or other agencies is often the key to developing a plan that significantly supports rangatahi to succeed.

Many have suffered intergenerational trauma, and without intervention their trajectory is heading in the wrong direction. Often it might be a small gesture that makes the biggest difference and the team at ACROSS are no strangers to those gestures.  Banele took his eight students colleague, whaea Gale’s home where she cooked a homemade roast dinner for them and the group engaged in an exercise about what their futures might look like. They dared to dream in this safe environment and now they are imagining how their futures could play out.  It takes special people to work with rangatahi and Banele, Gale and the ACROSS team are certainly making an enormous impact in their community.