Achieving Lofty Ambitions

24th of April, 2017

We are almost one year in our new home at The Loft! This time last year the space was still under construction, and now we are planning our one-year anniversary celebration.

The Loft opened to the public on 4 July 2016. Initially Family Help Trust and Aviva were the two agencies to take up residence; since then we have been joined by staff from Caring for Carers, Citizen’s Advice Bureau, Community Law, Dual Recovery Network, He Waka Tapu, Plunket and NZ Red Cross.

We all hoped it would be a place that would make service and support-seeking easier and more accessible to people, and enable the agencies within it to work together in new ways to enhance client outcomes; all of that is happening. By the end of March 2017 approximately 300 people unconnected with any agency within had walked in the door of The Loft to seek advice, information or support. Almost half of those are seeking support with family violence issues, and the vast majority of those are referred to Aviva.

It is great to hear and see people from different agencies go to each other’s desks to talk about clients and the support they need. Apart from sharing information about services, we have been able to share donations of food and goods for clients. This growing relationship is reinforced by participation the front-of-house Navigator roster, which requires all client-facing staff to learn about the other services available here in order to provide appropriate referrals to people who walk in the door without any prior agency connection. We have also made connections with other local groups and networks, learning about what is on offer locally, and what The Loft and its agencies can contribute.

An Example of The Loft in Action

Melissa* was in financial difficulties, with a huge outstanding electricity bill when she came to The Loft to find out about a No Interest Loan (part of the microfinance options offered by Aviva). She had tried other agencies but they couldn’t help her.

Unfortunately she didn’t meet the criteria for the loan but, thinking outside the square, our front-of-house team considered how The Loft might support her. Our Navigator contacted the Mayor’s Welfare Fund, then linked her to the Woolston Development Project for support going to WINZ, and to Kingdom Resources for budgeting advice. Meanwhile, our Receptionist contacted Globug to get connection details to help her manage her electricity better in the future. By the end of the interaction the client’s whole demeanour had changed, and she was really happy with the help she received from The Loft team.       

We have created a Loft evaluation form for clients and feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive, with 100% of people saying that they would recommend The Loft to others.

*not her real name