54 days ago

Mental health advocate wins $10,000 for work supporting first responders

Ripu Bhatia Reporter from North Shore Times

A woman has won $10,000 to go towards her efforts to set up a mental health homestead for first responders.

Takapuna resident Rebecca Nelson’s charity Te Kiwi Maia envisions a place where first responders can go to feel supported and access therapy.

The 33-year-old has been recognised in the 2021 Westfield Local Heroes community grants program for her work.

Te Kiwi Maia was born 18 months ago while Nelson was visiting the UK.

“I went to an establishment called Tedworth Health, a beautiful place over there where one of my dear friends actually went to get some help,” she said.

“It had everything you required as a veteran, music therapy, animal therapy, it had lots of art, and families could go and stay there too.”

Nelson, who is a member of the New Zealand Navy, questioned why similar support was absent back home.

She has teamed up with first responders like the army, airforce, navy, police, ambulance and firefighters to make it a reality.

“Our aim is to get a homestead or a working farm here in NZ, so there our people who are currently serving or are ex-service can go to get the therapy they require due to wounded injured or ill through line of duty,” she said.

While fundraising continues for the homestead, Nelson will start taking away first responders for a week of respite.

She is working with Massey University to create a programme that is based around people’s needs.

“A lot of veterans are relieved excited. I know there’s a lot of them who have potentially gone through stages of their careers where they would have liked to take some time out and to decompress from whatever the situation was that they witnessed,” she said.

“It’s about time, they’ve been saying, and they’re really glad that we’re collaborating to make this happen.”

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