It all began in 2017, with the offer of a three-year contract with Auckland Airport to rehome their unclaimed left luggage and lost property. ME Family Services seized the opportunity, converting a meeting room in our office in Mangere East into a Recovery Room, hiring a van for the weekly pick up of goods, and opening our doors to the local community to come and trade.
Utilising the extensive community networks we’ve built up over the past 25 years, we connected with local groups, organisations, businesses and residents to find new homes for the amazing resources we were receiving from the Airport each week; clothing, luggage, strollers, household goods, camping equipment and much more. The Recovery Room has transformed our office space on Ferguson St into a thriving hub that draws in local residents who hadn’t even realised we were here.
Visitors to the room are given an introduction to ME Family Services (including our social work service, Early Childhood Centre and Talking Rubbish team) and are encouraged to consider the skills and resources they have that could be traded for the goods they need. Trades have included home baking, artworks, items from people’s own homes, helping in our Recovery Room and community garden, introducing friends and family to our organisation, as well as monetary koha. This approach builds people’s confidence and changes the conversation from “what do you need?”, to “how can we help each other?”.
Over the past two years, support from our Local Board has enabled us to further develop and extend our Resource Recovery network, enabling us to purchase a cargo van for pick ups and fund a driver. We’ve also been able to build and develop relationships with a wide range of groups and businesses across the Māngere/Ōtāhuhu area, through the employment of a Resource Recovery project co-ordinator.
To date, we’re collecting resources from eight businesses (including hotels, campervan companies and airlines) as well as many local residents and community groups, and are providing resources to over 50 community groups and hundreds of local families. We’re rehoming a wide range of goods, including furniture, building and gardening materials, sports equipment, electronic gear, books and art materials. The resources are helping to build small businesses, create community spaces and furnish homes.
Some of our favourite trades have included; providing tents and sleeping bags to the protectors at Ihumātao, resourcing local students with camping gear to enable them to attend their school camps, providing wool to a Māngere College teacher who got a friend to knit baby jumpers and toys that were then sold to fundraise for the school, providing serving dishes to Atiu Hall for a funeral, resourcing Te Puea Marae with sheets and bedding as they set up emergency accommodation for homeless families, providing tennis raquets and balls for the Māngere/Ōtāhuhu Netball centre for their holiday programmes, and seeing people become more mobile with the aid of walking sticks, wheelchairs and strollers.
Our Resource Recovery operation is keeping a huge amount “waste” from landfill- a whopping 14,000kg over the past year! It’s also giving people an opportunity to uncover and value their own contribution to the community. Some visitors to our Recovery Room have become regular Timetraders with us, swapping their time for resources and gaining skills and confidence along the way. Several have gone on to find employment in the wider community as a result of their experience here.
Our Recovery Room is a resource for the whole community, so please get in touch or come and visit if you have goods or materials you no longer need and would like to pass on to others, or if there are resources here that you need and would like to trade for.
“Everyone and everything has value!”