Survey reveals health problems in Elgin

Plans to make changes for residents of the 'forgotten suburb'.

Plans to make changes for residents of the 'forgotten suburb'.

CONGRATULATIONS: Elgin residents who filled out a survey about the big issues facing their suburb all went in a draw for a $1000 prize package. The winner was Ashleigh Harvey, far left, who was excited about the boost this would give her whanau because they were moving homes this week. The other winner was Knox Street Kindergarten. Pictured are head teacher Jenny Newman, left, and teacher Rochelle Soloman, who said the $500 prize would go towards the health and wellbeing of their tamariki. Far right are Tu Hikitia directors Tui Takarangi and Sharon Pihema, who have spearheaded this campaign to bring light to a Gisborne suburb they feel has often been forgotten. Picture by Paul Rickard

A “SOMEWHAT forgotten suburb” of Gisborne is the focus of a new project that plans to fast-track changes for its residents.

The spotlight is on Elgin, and the health of some who live there.

Backed by a $25,000 Tairawhiti District Health Board (DHB) grant, a recent survey was distributed among the community and filled out by 183 Elgin residents.

Driven by the company Tu Hikitia, the information will provide a starting point for directors Sharon Pihema and Tui Takarangi, who are Elgin residents, have backgrounds in health and community development, and are passionate about their community.

The survey results showed 59 percent of these people had gone without fresh fruit and vegetables in the past 12 months so they could pay for other things they needed.

The other 40 percent had vegetable gardens and their children would go fruit-picking for their school lunches.

Ms Takarangi said she was not shocked.

“But what we have to do is work around these facts," she said.

“We are going to take this information and we are going to work on it. We’re fast-tracking this stuff and then we need to go back to the DHB and other agencies and tell them our story.”

Solution-focused

Ms Takarangi said she and Ms Pihema were solution-focused with a background in health promotion, so knew what had to be done.

Ms Pihema said she did not believe the issues highlighted in the survey were confined to Elgin. It was just that no one had asked these questions of any suburbs before.

The big issues facing residents were safety and a strong gang presence in Elgin, lack of suitable and affordable housing, difficulties in accessing services located in the CBD or across town, lack of activities for rangatahi to participate in and the increasing number of roaming dogs in the community.

“Ultimately, this puts a child and the whanau at a greater risk of rheumatic fever,” Ms Pihema said.

This was the prime reason the survey was funded by the DHB.

Other results revealed that more than a third of Elgin residents had accessed a special food grant or the food bank over the past year.

Ms Pihema said the main dietary items that came through in the survey were lots of rice, pasta and bread.

“People also talked about going to other family members’ homes during the week for dinners and this helped with getting enough to eat.

“I guess it’s really about the fact that there simply isn’t enough money coming into the home. People are doing everything they can, bulk buying, menu planning, budgeting, growing their own gardens.

“I can only talk from my own family’s experience when we were on one wage and how hard it gets trying to keep up with healthy meals for the whole family.

“There is lots of planning, and hours spent prepping and cooking in the kitchen. For some who don’t have that time, it just gets too difficult.”

Managing increased living costs

Elgin residents shared more than 130 ways in which they managed the increase of living costs.

These included cooking over the fire, using the barbecue, working 70 hours a week, quitting smoking and using the car only on weekdays.

The survey showed 85 percent of people bought cheaper food so they have could have enough for other things they needed.

Households cut back on energy costs over winter by turning out the lights more in their homes, heating only part of the house and cutting back on the hours the heating was on.

Ms Pihema said when they asked people to describe the overall warmth of their homes, 31.3 percent said they were colder than they would have liked. To combat this they stayed in bed to keep warm.

The survey also found that cold homes made people feel unhappy, anxious, depressed and uncomfortable about inviting people over. It also made existing health problems worse.

Only 6.7 percent said they were keeping up with their bills without difficulties. Eighty-two percent said they would not be able to afford an unexpected but necessary expense like major car repairs or emergency travel.

Parents were putting the needs of their children first, and often not including themselves when menu planning and grocery shopping.

“My partner and I have had his two children living with us for two years full time now.

“We both have full-time jobs and work very hard for our money.

“We make just enough to get by. We are ineligible for financial assistance, as the Government says we earn too much between us, but it isn’t really enough.

“We are classed as ‘the working poor’,” said one respondent.

Other families said they were proactive about hunting, fishing, buying specials at supermarkets, and baking to make their groceries last as long as possible.

Grocery shopping was at cheap discount prices and clothes were bought from second-hand shops.

A “SOMEWHAT forgotten suburb” of Gisborne is the focus of a new project that plans to fast-track changes for its residents.

The spotlight is on Elgin, and the health of some who live there.

Backed by a $25,000 Tairawhiti District Health Board (DHB) grant, a recent survey was distributed among the community and filled out by 183 Elgin residents.

Driven by the company Tu Hikitia, the information will provide a starting point for directors Sharon Pihema and Tui Takarangi, who are Elgin residents, have backgrounds in health and community development, and are passionate about their community.

The survey results showed 59 percent of these people had gone without fresh fruit and vegetables in the past 12 months so they could pay for other things they needed.

The other 40 percent had vegetable gardens and their children would go fruit-picking for their school lunches.

Ms Takarangi said she was not shocked.

“But what we have to do is work around these facts," she said.

“We are going to take this information and we are going to work on it. We’re fast-tracking this stuff and then we need to go back to the DHB and other agencies and tell them our story.”

Solution-focused

Ms Takarangi said she and Ms Pihema were solution-focused with a background in health promotion, so knew what had to be done.

Ms Pihema said she did not believe the issues highlighted in the survey were confined to Elgin. It was just that no one had asked these questions of any suburbs before.

The big issues facing residents were safety and a strong gang presence in Elgin, lack of suitable and affordable housing, difficulties in accessing services located in the CBD or across town, lack of activities for rangatahi to participate in and the increasing number of roaming dogs in the community.

“Ultimately, this puts a child and the whanau at a greater risk of rheumatic fever,” Ms Pihema said.

This was the prime reason the survey was funded by the DHB.

Other results revealed that more than a third of Elgin residents had accessed a special food grant or the food bank over the past year.

Ms Pihema said the main dietary items that came through in the survey were lots of rice, pasta and bread.

“People also talked about going to other family members’ homes during the week for dinners and this helped with getting enough to eat.

“I guess it’s really about the fact that there simply isn’t enough money coming into the home. People are doing everything they can, bulk buying, menu planning, budgeting, growing their own gardens.

“I can only talk from my own family’s experience when we were on one wage and how hard it gets trying to keep up with healthy meals for the whole family.

“There is lots of planning, and hours spent prepping and cooking in the kitchen. For some who don’t have that time, it just gets too difficult.”

Managing increased living costs

Elgin residents shared more than 130 ways in which they managed the increase of living costs.

These included cooking over the fire, using the barbecue, working 70 hours a week, quitting smoking and using the car only on weekdays.

The survey showed 85 percent of people bought cheaper food so they have could have enough for other things they needed.

Households cut back on energy costs over winter by turning out the lights more in their homes, heating only part of the house and cutting back on the hours the heating was on.

Ms Pihema said when they asked people to describe the overall warmth of their homes, 31.3 percent said they were colder than they would have liked. To combat this they stayed in bed to keep warm.

The survey also found that cold homes made people feel unhappy, anxious, depressed and uncomfortable about inviting people over. It also made existing health problems worse.

Only 6.7 percent said they were keeping up with their bills without difficulties. Eighty-two percent said they would not be able to afford an unexpected but necessary expense like major car repairs or emergency travel.

Parents were putting the needs of their children first, and often not including themselves when menu planning and grocery shopping.

“My partner and I have had his two children living with us for two years full time now.

“We both have full-time jobs and work very hard for our money.

“We make just enough to get by. We are ineligible for financial assistance, as the Government says we earn too much between us, but it isn’t really enough.

“We are classed as ‘the working poor’,” said one respondent.

Other families said they were proactive about hunting, fishing, buying specials at supermarkets, and baking to make their groceries last as long as possible.

Grocery shopping was at cheap discount prices and clothes were bought from second-hand shops.

• Tu Hikitia was formed as a social enterprise company late last year through knowledge gained at a business seminar run by Te Puni Kokiri and through the help of Activate Tairawhiti’s Peter Jarrett, who sat “shoulder to shoulder” with them as they developed a business plan and approach.

Your email address will not be published. Comments will display after being approved by a staff member. Comments may be edited for clarity.

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    Are you worried that too much farmland will be converted to forestry due to the Government's climate change policies?