‘Save Youthline’s Youth Health Service’ Campaign June 2016

It’s some time since my last column in Ponsonby News, mainly because I have been working for Youthline for the past 12 months!

At the time I also noted that Youthline, which is based in Maidstone Street in Grey Lynn, is very much a local organisation. So it seems logical to write about a project that I am currently working on and that would benefit from the support of our local community.

My story is about the Youthline Youth Health Service and how you can help to keep it running. In May 2015, with start-up funding of $50,000 from the Baxter International Foundation, Youthline in collaboration with Health Connections launched a Youth Health Service. We knew from experience, supported by research and studies, that many young people do not access health services. Youthline has had a long-term dream and goal to extend its wrap-around services to include a youth health service.

Operating from Youthline’s Grey Lynn premises, the free service has provided much needed primary care for many of Auckland’s vulnerable young people. The service has been available from 3pm to 6pm every Wednesday where anyone aged 10-25 can access health professionals for testing, prescriptions and general check-ups.

Twelve months down the track and the service has had a very productive year with a wide range of cases presenting. The majority of clients were 15-19 years and female with most being European/Pakeha and resident in Auckland Central. Many of the young people were from marginalised, low socio-economic, Maori, Pacific or GLBTI communities or homeless.

It’s worth noting the reasons they chose the Youth Health Service: easy to get there; because it was free; more suitable for young people; doctor has been useless; Youthline youth worker suggested it; free and convenient location; free service and more accessible; I am not registered with a GP; my doctor is expensive; I felt more comfortable at the health clinic then at my family GP; friends, my counsellor and school recommended the health clinic to me.

Having got to the end of its first year the Youth Health Service now needs another $50,000 to take it through the next 12 months. If we don’t get the money the service will close.

What’s interesting is that the Youth Health Service is not a traditional healthcare model and some potential ‘industry’ funders are reluctant or unable to support this sort of initiative on the basis that it doesn’t fall within their priorities. I can understand that - sort of!

What it means however, is that Youthline has to look for other sources of funding and is appealing to individual donors and philanthropic organisations to help.

The campaign to raise the $50,000 is underway. Thanks to the generosity of a wide range of donors - big and small - we’ve raised $30,000 so far. That’s an amazing result and we are so grateful for the support of the community for such an important cause.

We just need $20,000 more. To help the cause, and make it very easy to donate, Youthline has launched a Givealittle page. Put simply, if 1000 donors gave $20 each, then the service would be open for another 12 months.

So if you’d like to donate to keep the service open - a service that is based in the heart of Ponsonby News territory and is providing our local young people with much needed health care - then you can do so by going to our Givealittle page at www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/saveyouthlinesyouthhealthservice or go to our website and follow the prompts to donations. Or you can contact me at geoff@youthline.co.nz and I’ll get it sorted for you.

You can make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable young people in our community. (GEOFF LAWSON)

www.youthline.co.nz and www.facebook.com/youthline.changing.lives