Neighbourhoods of Healthy Homes

Date published: June 30, 2012 at 10:16 am | Comments

Five Bay of Plenty organisations have combined their resources in a unique initiative to build community resilience in Kawerau.

BayTrust, the Eastern Bay Energy Trust (EBET), Energy Options, the Energy Options Charitable Company Limited and the Kawerau District Council are all partners in the ‘Neighbourhoods of Healthy Homes’ project, which aims to promote innovative, community-led solutions to the problems associated with economic and social deprivation.

This $1.8 million, three-year project will involve some 250 households in neighbourhoods where the housing stocks are below modern standards. The project will empower neighbourhoods to identify their own needs and facilitate a range of positive outcomes, through sustainable solutions which may include insulation installation, improved efficiency heating solutions, solar water heating, curtain bank schemes, dry firewood schemes, and essential repairs and maintenance.

Kawerau Mayor Malcolm Campbell says the initiative has the ability to profoundly impact the town and will have high visibility within the community and the wider region.

“It will focus on areas where real value can be created by building the ability for local people to help themselves and each other, and motivate other areas to follow their achievements. We believe this is a hugely important development which will move the whole town forward and on behalf of the Kawerau District, I want to thank BayTrust, the Eastern Bay Energy Trust and Energy Options for their support of our community.”

BayTrust will contribute $400,000 to Neighbourhoods of Healthy Homes project from its Henry Duncan Fund, which Community Development Advisor Terri Eggleton says was established to support community-led and driven programmes which will make measurable and sustainable differences. “The concept for the fund was to focus on areas where a number of groups or agencies wish to work together to target environmental, economic, cultural, social or health issues and address the root causes of those issues. We look forward to seeing the Kawerau community empowered to identify and meet its own needs with long-term solutions.”

EBET Trustee Edwina O’Brien describes the project as “very exciting for the Kawerau Community”, with the potential to deliver positive outcomes on many levels. Improvements in the health and welfare of the families whilst also engaging neighbourhoods to work closely together will have an impact on the quality of life to the residents of Kawerau.

Meanwhile, Energy Options Chief Executive Officer Nik Gregg says Neighbourhoods of Healthy Homes is a great fit for his organisation’s nationally-recognised energy efficiency and related programmes. “We know how much value can be added to people’s lives through simple measures like retrofitting homes with effective insulation and providing good advice, but often there are other issues that need to be addressed too. Energy Options wanted to find ways of addressing those needs through a neighbourhood focus, and this project allows us to take a more holistic, longer lasting approach to healthier homes and sustainable communities.”

Neighbourhoods of Healthy Homes was formally launched at a meeting of the foundation partners in Kawerau on April 24 and will soon spread its influence into some of the town’s original, early-1950s neighbourhoods. It will see the development of local neighbourhood groups to facilitate self-assessments of household needs and develop plans and access grants and funding to meet those needs. Examples of new services could be curtain banks and firewood banks, along with local employment opportunities and skill development over the longer term.

The project will be supported by a small team of staff who will be responsible for encouraging neighbourhood participation, and helping liaise with funders, external agencies and solution providers.