Manchester House - Social Services Society, Feilding.
Positive futures for YOUTH
Robyn Duncan has a passion for helping families
stay safe and young people reach their potential. She is a busy person
and much of her time is spent in her role working as a Family Supporter
and an Alcohol and Drug Support worker for Manchester House.
Her work can see her working with young people from the age of 12 years
who may have addiction problems. She is there to support them with
making positive choices in life.
She attends meetings with clients and their families, and in some cases
supports them through court appearances. "It's about helping them with
finding the right resources and support in our community so they can
lead a more fulfilling life."
Another group Robyn works with are young mothers who can find
themselves isolated or in need of support.
The local Youth Aid officers at Feilding Police also sing her praises
for the work she does with youth and they happily work alongside her
and respect her role.
Family group conferences through the Youth Justice system also use
Robyn's services with issues such as Care and Protection.
As well as one-on-one and group and advocacy meetings, Robyn is a
person who is known to roll up her sleeves and do the hard work.
Because of this, she was awarded a Queens Service medal in 2011 and
earlier this year (2013) was recognised by the Orangi Kaupapa Trust,
which has the purpose of recognising those people whose work benefits
the quality of life in New Zealand.
Robyn was the first co-ordinator of a youth justice scheme, which was
trialed in Feilding. Under her influence, the Feilding and District
Youth Board was so successful in reducing repeat offending among young
people, the Youth Court Judge Grant Fraser dubbed her and Youth Aid
Officer John Samuela "the dynamic duo". Robyn's personality is an
important factor in influencing young offenders.
Not only did she collect the young offenders assigned to do volunteer
work each Saturday and supervised their work, she developed a caring
relationship with them and their families, remembering their birthdays,
and ensuring they got out of bed and ate properly. If they carried out
the tasks set by the Youth Board, the young offenders avoided going to
Very few who went through the process under Ms Duncan re-offended.
Manchester House appreciates her work with the social service
organisation dealing with many aspects of care for families on their
Young Dreams Parenting Programme.
The Young Dreams Parenting Programme was established
in March 2010 out of an identified need within the community for the
provision of a free, safe, warm, stable environment for young mothers
and their babies as well as parents with young children; a place where
they could be with others their own age and where they could share and
learn strategies for looking after their families.
Workshops involving other community groups
and agencies have proven very successful. These include budgetting,
cooking, Christmas craft, car seat information, gardening, a first aid
course, visits from Plunket, Runanga, Active Movement and parenting
advice via programmes such as SKIP, Triple P and others.
Without the continuous support from Manchester House Social Services in
the form of Family Support Workers, Budget advice and Social Worker,
this programme would not have evolved into what it is today.
Sharing, and being empowered through the support and assistance they
receive, has given many young parents the opportunity to determine what
it is they want out of life, to carry on their education, seek
employment or just generally prepare themselves for the next step in
their life's journey.
The establishment of the programme has attracted wide community and
subsequently national interest which included a visit from MPs Paula
Bennett and Simon Power.
The parents and their children have also attended a reception at the
Manawatu District Council and shared morning tea with the Mayor and
This year (2013) the Young Dreams programme will evolve to meet the
needs of another group of young parents and children, but its
underlying principles will remain the same. These are to focus on
forming a caring relationship with each parent and creating an
environment which provides security and stability, as we endeavour to
inspire and encourage personal development, and life skills.