Te Puke youth trust under threat

Vector Group Charitable Trust’s Steve and Tracey Fawcett may have to close the doors on the youth and community centre they set up in Te Puke if they can’t pay their rent this month.

A charitable trust working to support Te Puke youth may have to close its doors if it can’t make its rent payment this month.

The Vector Group Charitable Trust, led by Steve and Tracey Fawcett, has been operating in the town since early 2017, and leased the old Te Puke RSA building in November to set up a youth and community centre.

Among the trust’s success stories have been the town’s pop-up school ball shop, film, photography dance and art workshops for young people, the provision of space for other community groups to use and the bringing together of Te Puke social services in a collaborative group.

Steve says the trust has to come up with $13,000 by October 22 to pay the rent.

“If we don’t raise the funds then basically we’re going to shut up shop,” he says. “It’s been a pretty tough few weeks, but if we get over the line now it will be easier next year.”

Steve says while 10 of the trust’s 13 funding applications to various organisations have been approved, fundraising has been difficult because funders want to see results before parting with large sums of money.

“They’ve given us little bits here and there, but they want to see if we will survive long-term,” explains Steve.

“It’s like going to a hardware store and asking for nails - but they won’t give you nails because you need nails.”

Cathy Shaw, a teacher at Te Puke High School’s alternative education unit, says if the trust was to close its doors it would be a “great loss” to the community.

“Steve and Tracey have so much to offer the youth of Te Puke, and they have gone out and done the job when other people in town have talked about it and not done it,” she says.

“They’ve got a heart for people. They’ve tried to do everything they can to help the youth in our town and you won’t see any more loyalty than that. Without them, there is nothing for youth in this town.

“I think it’s about time people in the town got behind them and tried to find out how they can offer assistance and keep it running.”

Ben Wilson, community relationship advisor at Western Bay of Plenty District Council, says the work Steve and Tracey do in the Te Puke community has “terrific value”.

“They’ve batted well above their weight in the types of things they’ve been doing, basically with zero resources or income coming in,” says Ben.

“I think they’ve done fantastically well and young people gravitate to them. They’ve got the right sort of approach to supporting young people.”

Ben says it’s important to remember that organisations such as Vector Group are working for the community.

“They’re not a business,” he says. “They’re doing what they’re doing for the benefit of the community.”

If anyone would like to help the trust with a donation or sponsorship, contact Steve on: 027 414 4280.