After weeks of campaigning following a proposal to close it, Nikau House has been saved.
Daniel Timms, who is a regular user of the mental health facility, was at the forefront of the fight to keep Nikau’s doors open.
He created a petition to send to Parliament which was signed by 4500 people condemning the proposal to shut its doors as part of a restructuring of mental health resources.
“It is so important to the community and would have been a huge loss,” says Daniel.
Not only will Nikau remain open, but Daniel says the DHB say they plan to expand its resources and increase its accessibility.
“They heard our voices and things on the horizon look positive.”
He says when the DHB heard of all the positive things Nikau does for the community, it had no choice but to reconsider its options.
Daniel has suffered with mental health issues all his life and says Nikau House has been a lifeline and haven for him.
He says staff there have provided him with crucial education around diet, exercise, budgeting, sleep and legal advice, as well as offering support for those having problems with addiction and mental health.
Consultation on the proposed closure began on June 5 with Nelson Marlborough Health’s GM mental health, addictions and disability support services, Jane Kinsey, saying it gave an opportunity for people to voice their opinion and suggestions which helped inform the decisions made.
“We are humbled by the number of people who took time to reflect and think about what the proposed changes may mean.”
Jane says the feedback has guided the decision-making process and identified important work needed to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for the community.
The house will be renamed Nikau Hauora Hub which NMH says recognises that they will be strengthening the focus on resilience, recovery and wellbeing as well as welcoming new users to the service.
A working group will be created to lead the design of a service model and develop a plan for what services are needed going forward.
This will include developing it to better meet the needs of a wider range of people including Māori, Pasifika and youth. Nelson Labour candidate Rachel Boyack says the announcement is a win for the community.
“I think it’s a fantastic win for the community, there was a huge turn out to the public meeting last week and the community has wrapped themselves around the users of this service to ensure they were supported… their voices have been heard.”
Rachel says other community organisations were clear that they did not have the clinical expertise to provide the same services as Nikau House.
Nelson MP Nick Smith says the proposal was not thought through and would have denied vulnerable Nelsonians access to important services.
“We need more, not less, community-based mental health services,” says Nick.
“I applaud Daniel Timms who bravely led the charge opposing the closure. Daniel openly shared his experience with mental health issues which have seen him in and out of hospitals throughout the country and multiple suicide attempts.”