Free health advice for youth, an annual food festival that celebrates cultural diversity, transport services for the elderly - these are just some of the activities that have come about through the Ashburton District Social Wellbeing Strategy.
The Strategy was developed in 2008 as a partnership between Ashburton District Council, central government agencies and local social service provider organisations. The purpose was to look at the particular needs of Ashburton District and to identify ways in which local and central government can respond to them.
Ashburton District Council has hosted workshops and forums to support the Strategy and has worked with community and Government agencies to implement the Strategy's actions.
Work on Strategy has taken a back seat since the Canterbury earthquakes but local social service agencies and Council have decided it is time to turn attention back on the Strategy objectives.
The Council, along with Presbyterian Support, Safer Ashburton and Community House Mid-Canterbury invited community groups to give their feedback in a workshop today.
The purpose of the workshop was to find out what has changed in our community over the past three years and what we need to prioritise in terms of social service provision in the future, says Council's Community Relations Manager, Gavin Thomas.
"Ashburton District is fortunate we have such skilled and committed people on the ground and their contribution is at the heart of this strategy."
A key change in recent times is the pace of growth in the district. Ashburton District is one of the fastest growing rural districts in New Zealand. The current population is 31,041 – a 13% increase since 2006.
Part of the recent population growth has been people moving from Christchurch following the earthquakes, with some needing the support of local social service agencies.
"Our community has changed since the Strategy was first adopted and we need to find out whether we need to re-evaluate any of the action points," Mr Thomas says.
"We also want to know whether there are any new themes arising in our community that we need to focus on."
The Social Wellbeing Strategy 2009-14 identified six areas of focus for the district's social wellbeing: housing, new residents and migrants, children and young people, health, community social services and older people.
Feedback from the workshop will be compiled and brought for discussion at a Social Wellbeing Forum later this year and will be help inform a review of the strategy is scheduled for 2015/16.