The rest of New Zealand envies the Hawke’s Bay lifestyle and enormous potential our region has to offer. We’re renowned for our fertile soils, excellent climate, world-class Port, and the talented and entrepreneurial people who live here.
At the same time, we locals must concede that Hawke's Bay is a community in crisis. Levels of family violence and drug and alcohol abuse are frightening. Meanwhile, thousands of young people are not in employment, education, or training, it’s no wonder employers struggle to find reliable and motivated staff.
Enter Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hawke’s Bay, one of New Zealand’s most trusted youth mentoring programmes.
For over 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has changed lives and communities all over the world by matching young people with suitable adult role models who aim to build positive, enduring relationships. Big Brothers Big Sisters has a long and strong history, because it is simple and it works.
Since it’s relaunch in Hawke's Bay in 2017, over 100 lives have been impacted for the better. That's 100 young people more likely to become productive citizens. And 100 families who can learn from and be inspired by these young people.
The potential of our region is closely aligned to the potential of our youth. When we guide them in the right direction, we all win. Here is the story of two mentors who set out to ignite potential in our youth and facilitate a change in our community.
David Wills has been matched with Lachie since July 2020, he was motivated to become a mentor because he knew a few men who had mentored and felt it was a meaningful way to give back.
“One of the key benefits I have gained from mentoring is the absolute joy of seeing real positive changes in Lachy’s behaviour, confidence, and communication,” says David.
“I remember our first outing, there was not a lot of talking, as I think Lachy was trying to suss me out. We rode our bikes along the Marine Parade and ate very large ice creams! Ten months in and we have done all kinds of activities, from bike riding to swimming, riding the quad and there’s always ice cream involved, we laugh a lot!”
When asked about how it is to interact with his mentee’s family, David says “Families place an incredible level of trust in both Big Brothers Big Sisters and myself as a mentor, over time the relationship with Lachy’s family has become quite natural.”
Both David and Craig lead busy lives, And Craig who has been with McFall Fuel for 12 years is travelling across the region weekly. When asked how they can fit in one more thing, they both know there is nothing they would rather do.
“My time is an investment in the next generation, and the return is great,” says David, CEO of Ruahine Motors in Waipukurau. “I recommend mentoring because it is good for the soul, only takes a few hours a week and you can genuinely make a difference in a child’s life.”
Craig has been with McFall Fuel for the last 12 years and his work as Business Development and Area Operations Manager for Hawke’s Bay and Gisborne sees him travelling around the region on a daily basis.
“Giving time may seem so small and simple to us, however the impact and happiness you can notably make couldn’t be more rewarding. If you have one hour or more a week, then give the BBBS team a call.”
Craig coached both Junior and Premier Rugby for many years and when he stepped down from this in 2019 he continued to be motivated to give back to Hawke’s Bay youth, his skills as a coach saw ‘no child left behind’.
He was motivated by his family to become a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters after his wife Jodi shared with him a story from her hairdresser, who is also a mentor. After looking at BBBS and the difference the organisation makes, Craig and Jodi spoke to their two children, Logan and Georgia, who said “Dad this is you, you’ve got to do it”. With this encouragement Craig’s journey with mentee Adam began.
Craig describes how his relationship with Adam has changed over time, “over the past eight months Adam has really come out of his shell, asking questions and sharing stories, wow what an imagination and creative mind he has! He has the quirkiest sense of humour, and what we set out to do on an outing can take a complete left turn sometimes.
I feel the changes, the happiness and cool attitude Adam has been growing and developing. Adam’s mum is really supportive, she puts her family’s trust in BBBS and myself, this has only helped the relationship and bond Adam and I have.
I love that I am kept on my toes, and it’s great, doing things I haven’t done in years. I can’t talk highly enough of the programme and the people in it. Big Brothers Big Sisters is very supportive. If you want to give back, support our future and make a difference or significant change, then it’s a must for you.”
And what do our young people and their mum’s have to say about their mentors?
Lachy says “David is the best mentor, he gives me good advice and does fun activities with me". Tash, Lachy’s mum adds “Since Lachy has been matched with David he isn't as angry with everyone, and he is a lot calmer. David gives Lachy a great selection of 'boy' type physical experiences, which Lachy loves. They have a close bond.”
For Adam having Craig as his big brother is fun, “he is a good person and he tells me I am good at things too.” Jess, Adam’s mum is rapt with the programme, “Craig is Adam’s only male role model, he is so proud when he goes out with him. Craig fills a spot Adam doesn’t have in his life. I see his confidence growing because Craig is Adam’s ‘person’.”
You can step up too
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hawke's Bay is stepping up for the community and we need your partnership to ignite potential in our youth.
With early intervention youth can be supported to stay engaged in education in order to maximise their potential, develop life skills, increase confidence, and become the person they want to be. Our goal is to see Hawke’s Bay youth inspired, employed, and contributing to society in a meaningful way. Buddying a child with a mentor can change that child’s life forever!
Alasdair MacLeod and his mentee Kaine have been matched since February 2015 and Alasdair concurs, “being a mentor has reinforced the importance of having supportive role models in a young person’s life. Not only have I been able to do a tonne of fun stuff over the years I have been able to see Kaine’s aspirations grow. I get way more out of the match then I put in, and it’s true that while we can’t change the world, we can change a small part of it by our actions.”
On average we receive three enquiries per week, that’s over 150 boys and girls each year who could do with a positive role model to help them navigate through life challenges, our waiting list continues to grow and we need mentors more so now than ever, the demand for male volunteers is especially high.
As a charitable organisation we rely on donations, grants and a large volunteer workforce. Running the local mentoring programme costs over $200k per annum; this will rise to over $300k over the next few years as we extend the programme's reach. To continue growing this privately-funded and publicly-spirited intervention programme, we're asking for support in two ways.
In an ideal world, mentoring would take place naturally - for many children this natural mentoring simply will never happen.
● In order to provide this life-changing service and ensure it is professionally monitored, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hawke's Bay must raise funds for it.
● Over 90% of the money raised each year goes directly to provide practical support and resources for our volunteers and young people.
● Partners are vital if they are to maintain and develop sustainable and participatory communities.
If your business would like to discuss our Match Sponsorship programme, a new initiative launched in 2021, or you would like to find out more about being a mentor we’d love to hear from you. The benefits are rewarding for all.