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This is the final Herald profile of 12 charities awarded $8333 in grants from Auckland Airport’s Twelve Days of Christmas programme – now in its 13th year. The $100,000 funding comes from generous travellers who donate money at the airport.
Strive youth mentor Dainna Chapman is the first member of her family to break the cycle of welfare dependency. Now she helps other young people follow in her footsteps.
“To be honest, I never thought I’d be on this side,” she says. “I left school at 16, gave birth to my first child at 17 and didn’t get back into education till I was 24.
“Now I’m working full-time, studying for a degree in social work and saving for my own home. My clients hear my story and go, ‘Eh? You?’ I tell them if I can do it, you can too.”
The 28-year-old is one of a team of seven at Strive Community Trust who provide wrap-around social services to transition South Auckland youth aged 16 to 20 from the benefit into education, training and employment.
“Our goal is to get them to do better than the benefit. Our young people are moving places; they’re getting their licences, jobs, their kids immunised and into early childhood education. They have to do the work, we just show them what’s possible and support them to get through each door,” she says.
The team recently helped a 20-year-old father of three who lost his job in demolition during the Covid lockdown. Teen Dad co-ordinator Tusa Lafaele helped the young man gain his fork hoist licence and used his connections to place him in a provisional job which looks set to become permanent.
Strive also provided transitional housing for the young family, who were sharing a three-bedroom home in Ōtara with two other families. The community trust owns three blocks of transitional housing catering for families of all sizes. Chapman says parents under 18 aren’t old enough to sign a tenancy agreement.
“When you’re under 18 and you’re kicked out of home – what do you do? Unfortunately, a lot of young people get kicked out of home around this time of year. It’s the silly season,” she says.
“The most rewarding part of my job is knowing that our youth are going to be safe. They’re not going to be homeless or hungry and their children are not going to be disadvantaged.”
Young people under Strive’s umbrella undergo a two-day budgeting programme which teaches them how to differentiate essential spending and encourages saving. They also attend parenting classes.
“We provide a safe space where teen dads can come together and have a chat, just be guys and talk about daddy things. Honestly, it’s beautiful seeing them all together, supporting each other to become better parents,” she says.