Good in the Hood supports community mentoring in Taranaki
Community October 19, 2023
Z Energy’s (Z) Good in the Hood programme has helped to deliver stability and mentoring to hundreds of Taranaki youth through its support of Big Brothers, Big Sisters, says Constable Paul Lampe.
Constable Paul Lampe is the Project Leader – Youth Development for the Taranaki Police. He has done his time on the beat, but for the last 15 years he has been focused on supporting youth. Paul went into youth aid, and then into youth development – focused on creating positive community outcomes.
Part of his day job is running Big Brothers, Big Sisters, a charity that has received ongoing support from Z’s Good in the Hood programme, and one that Paul implemented in Taranaki after seeing it in action first-hand in Nelson.
Big Brothers, Big Sisters, offers community- and school-based mentoring for rangatahi. It works by matching adult volunteers with a young person, and they spend time together doing things they both enjoy, for 1-3 hours, once a week. Children are matched when they are between the ages of 6-10, and once they are matched, they can stay on the programme until they’re 18. An in-school mentoring programme has also been set up, for 1 hour a week at school during the school term.
When Paul first saw the programme in action in Nelson, where it had been transplanted from Canada, he immediately saw its potential. Not just that, but there was plenty of research showing the positive impact of mentoring – and the earlier the better.
“It’s a simple idea, really. It’s about doing ordinary things to create extraordinary people,” he says. “We set up relationships that help to provide stability and opportunity for families facing adversity. We’re big on the fact that this isn’t about entertainment – it’s about time and relationships. There’s an old saying that it takes a village to raise a child, and this is that idea at its most perceptible.
Most outings, says Paul, take place in the community, at a library, a park, the beach or at other free facilities. Some of the relationships endure for many years, with over 500 matched in 15 years, ultimately having a massive impact on the children involved.
“We’ve just closed a match that went for 7.5 years – the mentor had been in the child’s life longer than not being involved in their life. Some of our matches endure for up to a decade, and obviously some continue long after our involvement.
“They become immensely important relationships – like a second family for the children involved. We had one volunteer recently with his own children, and when one of his children turned five, he wanted the Big Brothers, Big Sisters child to attend his birthday party. It shows the strong ripple effect that it has – it’s about placing a community around them.”
Big Brothers, Big Sisters doesn’t receive any government funding, so sponsorship from business is critically important. A single match costs between $2,000 to $2,500 per year, and Paul affirms that’s part of the reason why it’s so important to have engaged corporate supporters.
“Z have been such a huge help to us, and they’re really involved with us – it’s not just about handing over some money for them, they really want to be an active part of the community.”
In fact, one of the team members at a local Taranaki Z site recently signed up to become a school-based mentor, and Z have supported that staff member to have an hour of his working day each week, to go to the school and spend some time with their mentee.
“We have about 20-30 kids currently on our waiting list, so the number of volunteer mentors available is really the only restriction we have in terms of meeting demand. It would be awesome if we had more businesses like Z who would consider allowing staff to become school-based mentors,” says Paul.
“It’s a huge impact, and it’s only an hour a week to ‘fill the bucket’ of one of our kids.”
If you’d like to learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters Taranaki and how you can support them, head to https://www.bigbrothersbigsisters.org.nz/taranaki