There is much that we want to say - but we will keep this as concise as possible - always welcoming your contact and knowing that there is a need for us to be singing the same songs of hope and recovery as a wide and diverse whānau who are all committed to suicide prevention.
What have we been up to?
So much has shifted, and yet so much stays the same. The Retreat has continued operating during the nation's lockdown, as an Essential Service, but in different and inventive ways - with a constant aim of responding to need, whether Covid 19 related or not. We are very mindful that for some people, more change and deep isolation is just too much. Adapting, which we can be adept at - does take energy and focus. If we have trauma in our story, these new challenges can be horrendous. Accordingly, we have ramped up our one to one support for whānau in the community; delivering care packages, packed not just with staples, but aroha. Keeping in regular contact with people is vital. Sometimes sharing the load to an understanding ear can help ease some of the weight of those burdens.
Often, as a team with many good connections we can offer advocacy with accessing support (making those difficult phone calls - being the squeaky wheel etc); and our role can also be to provide resources specific to a situation. Something we are all re-learning in these very different times, is the importance of connection. We are lucky to have so many options available to do this, thanks to the Internet; something we will take away from our time during lockdown. But nothing beats human, physical presence alongside each other. We all need human connection, whatever form that takes; we need others in our lives. The enforced paused mode has higlighted for many what can be let go of (busyness?) and what stands out as vital.
We are looking forward to Level Two when our ways of supporting people will be so much easier - and have careful processes in place to make sure we do so safely.
Not too much to report of course, all our planned working bees and other ongoing site-works have had to be put on hold. We know how lucky we are to have such beautiful setting - everything on the site, except maybe the odd gorse bush, has been lovingly placed and gifted by a huge team of supporters, volunteers, staff and Guests. It is amazing to think that six years ago it was just a paddock! So many caring people have contributed to make the Retreat what it is. It is the compassion of our local peple writ large. Our Chapel (pictured above) is often a place of solace for those who are hurting, facing directly onot the gorgeous view of our ever-changing but ever-present mountain; it is a wonderful metaphor for hope. Sometimes we cannot see the mountain or any trace of it, but we know it is there and that the clouds will lift eventually. It does feel like we are gong in the right direction with the emergence from Level 4. We send our aroha to you and your bubble; please don't hesitate to reach out if you would like support, the challenges of the past few weeks are making their presence felt in a whole range of unexpected ways. The clouds will lift, we know this, and we have plenty of hope to share.
Whānau - whatever your situation - we want to hear about it.
Our strategy is a proactive response in the face of heightened national suicide risk due to Covid 19, and an exponential rise in those reaching out for support. Our kaupapa is to provide a unique presence and service for Aotearoa New Zealand. The reality is that we need support in times of distress and when hope is out of sight, and there are many cases where a person is returning to an isolated/solo-living situation following a close call, and continues to be at such risk and in terrible deep inner pain. Taranaki Retreat's service is open-ended and provides the space and support to recover and gain the hope that is the oxygen to continue living.
The Retreat was envisioned and created through the lived experience of whānau who know, from heart-breaking first-hand experience, that those needs for support at the right time were not sufficiently available, and more was desperately needed. They had attempted to seek help, but to no avail. More than any other set of circumstances, the emergence from Covid 19 is causing distress to many who have never before needed to reach out for support; who may feel shame in needing to do so (shame that we stand against; kotahitanga is how we are made to be!). We are passionate to provide proactive, focused, non-judgemental reaching out, rather than expecting the need to be self-identified. Please help us achieve this. Get involved; and please support us in any way you can, financially - our usual round of awesome fundraising events have been utterly scotched, and, as yet, we don't fully know the hows; but together, we will find the ways to do it anyway!
More to come, but at the beginning, we undertook to keep this brief!
No reira, tēna koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katou
Jamie Allen, Executive Officer and a guy who is alongside you in all this.