CanTeen branch closes

Will leave ‘a gaping hole’

Will leave ‘a gaping hole’

CanTeen youth support co-ordinator Lianne Jenkins (far left). Picture by Rebecca Grunwell

The sudden loss this week of Gisborne’s Canteen office is a “massive loss” and “devastating” for the community, say people who refer to and have used the service.

The Tairawhiti region has lost CanTeen East Cape as part of a national restructure of the cash-strapped organisation.

The regional office, which covers Gisborne, East Coast, Wairoa and Opotiki closed its doors for the last time on Thursday after only being informed of the closure on Monday.

Gisborne Hospital oncology nurse specialist Kelly Norris said it would leave a “terrible gaping hole”.

A big part of the huge loss was social worker Lianne Jenkins, who has been running the office and supporting young people with cancer, their families and young people affected by family with cancer, for the past 12 years.

Abigail Douglas, a volunteer since 2006, posted on CanTeen East Cape’s Facebook page this morning she was saddened by the news.

“I have watched Lianne Jenkins build the most amazing relationships with our whanau and members. She has grown the service and given so much of her own time.”

It would be hard to measure up to her compassion, time and rapport, she said.

Cancer survivor Sophie Higgins said the CanTeen East Cape branch had been an amazing organisation that supported her through many different aspects in life.

Fears young will be put further at risk

“It has helped in providing me with grants to further my study, grown my leadership skills, provided me with amazing experience like skydiving and supported me when I needed it most.

“Lianne is an amazing lady who I have been so grateful to meet. She has always been encouraging and helped grow the East Cape branch to be a thriving, welcoming space.

“CanTeen has taught me to take every opportunity with two hands and not to let it go,” she said. “Having face-to-face support is something I found very effective. I liked being able to communicate to other members that have shared a similar experience.

“Closing the branch will have a huge effect on the young people of our community, along with their families.”

There has been an outpouring of grief on social media from many volunteers, Canteen East Cape members and their families.

Ms Norris said, as an oncology nurse, removing the service CanTeen offered put young people further at risk.

This region was unique and isolated and it would be difficult for the main centres to replace what Mrs Jenkins offered.

“It is so much worse because it has come out of nowhere and at Christmas. For many of the young people Lianne has been working with, this is their first Christmas dealing with cancer, or without a loved one.”

If the community had had time, it could have rallied and pulled together to make sure the service was not lost.

Mrs Jenkins said it had been a difficult week knowing all regional branches, especially the local branch, was closing.

She had 70 young people she was working with when the office was closed down this week.

“Our needs are just as real if not even more real than when we opened the branch 12 years ago.

“I would like to personally acknowledge all the local support and generosity we have received over the years from our local community, branch volunteers, sponsors, grant providers, individual donors, businesses, schools, community organisations and clubs.

“To the professionals in other organisations and in the health sector we have worked with — together we have helped make a difference in the lives of our young people.

She broke down when she made her last acknowledgement.

“To the young people themselves and their families — it has been a privilege to have been a part of your support and it is you who have taught me gratitude and to live life to the fullest.”

The sudden loss this week of Gisborne’s Canteen office is a “massive loss” and “devastating” for the community, say people who refer to and have used the service.

The Tairawhiti region has lost CanTeen East Cape as part of a national restructure of the cash-strapped organisation.

The regional office, which covers Gisborne, East Coast, Wairoa and Opotiki closed its doors for the last time on Thursday after only being informed of the closure on Monday.

Gisborne Hospital oncology nurse specialist Kelly Norris said it would leave a “terrible gaping hole”.

A big part of the huge loss was social worker Lianne Jenkins, who has been running the office and supporting young people with cancer, their families and young people affected by family with cancer, for the past 12 years.

Abigail Douglas, a volunteer since 2006, posted on CanTeen East Cape’s Facebook page this morning she was saddened by the news.

“I have watched Lianne Jenkins build the most amazing relationships with our whanau and members. She has grown the service and given so much of her own time.”

It would be hard to measure up to her compassion, time and rapport, she said.

Cancer survivor Sophie Higgins said the CanTeen East Cape branch had been an amazing organisation that supported her through many different aspects in life.

Fears young will be put further at risk

“It has helped in providing me with grants to further my study, grown my leadership skills, provided me with amazing experience like skydiving and supported me when I needed it most.

“Lianne is an amazing lady who I have been so grateful to meet. She has always been encouraging and helped grow the East Cape branch to be a thriving, welcoming space.

“CanTeen has taught me to take every opportunity with two hands and not to let it go,” she said. “Having face-to-face support is something I found very effective. I liked being able to communicate to other members that have shared a similar experience.

“Closing the branch will have a huge effect on the young people of our community, along with their families.”

There has been an outpouring of grief on social media from many volunteers, Canteen East Cape members and their families.

Ms Norris said, as an oncology nurse, removing the service CanTeen offered put young people further at risk.

This region was unique and isolated and it would be difficult for the main centres to replace what Mrs Jenkins offered.

“It is so much worse because it has come out of nowhere and at Christmas. For many of the young people Lianne has been working with, this is their first Christmas dealing with cancer, or without a loved one.”

If the community had had time, it could have rallied and pulled together to make sure the service was not lost.

Mrs Jenkins said it had been a difficult week knowing all regional branches, especially the local branch, was closing.

She had 70 young people she was working with when the office was closed down this week.

“Our needs are just as real if not even more real than when we opened the branch 12 years ago.

“I would like to personally acknowledge all the local support and generosity we have received over the years from our local community, branch volunteers, sponsors, grant providers, individual donors, businesses, schools, community organisations and clubs.

“To the professionals in other organisations and in the health sector we have worked with — together we have helped make a difference in the lives of our young people.

She broke down when she made her last acknowledgement.

“To the young people themselves and their families — it has been a privilege to have been a part of your support and it is you who have taught me gratitude and to live life to the fullest.”

All regional offices will be shut down

CanTeen NZ chairwoman Carol Scholes said the organisation was in a “dire financial situation".

All regional branches would be shut down and it would operate from three hubs in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

There were cuts everywhere including at head office. The changes to regional offices were part cost and part about safety of workers, she said.

Having a sole person running the regional offices was not the best model and it could not afford to have more people.

Gisborne referrals to CanTeen would be assessed for needs and dealt with through face-to-face or online counselling.

“Each case is different and some might need to be introduced to others in the same area dealing with the same thing. We will be working more actively with other agencies in each of the regions. For example, if a young person has significant issues with mental health. we can work out the right support and deliver it in the right way.”

“Once we get the referrals, we will decide. Some might choose online and some face-to-face.”

The restructure had been based on a successful Australian model and was the result of a new board that had asked new questions, and as a result had refreshed and changed the model here.

Ms Scholes said the lone worker situation in the regions was not fair.

“They are remarkable people. I bow down to what they have been doing”

The organisation got no government funding and was competing against the more that 27,000 charity organisations in New Zealand for the same dollar.

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

Johanna Wilkes - 6 months ago
What a loss for our cancer affected community. It is hard to believe this is happening to our regional CanTeen Eastcape branch. This branch has been massively supported over the last 12 years by Gisborne business and local volunteers. It is a shame the "business model" could not be reversed and "head office" is the one that is down-sized in order for the regional offices to remain and continue the great work they do in supporting those teens touched by this hideous disease.

Poll

  • Voting please wait...
    Your vote has been cast. Reloading page...
    Do you want the rail line to Gisborne reinstated now?