Limited funding for vocational services has seen Ngā Tukemata o Kahungunu Charitable Trust stretched financially. But rather than leaving the permanently disabled in its care high and dry, its director Jim Edwards has spent more than $150,000 of his own money over the years to make up the shortfall.
Here at Ngā Tukemata o Kahungunu, it's all about hands-on therapy for those who have a permanent disability.
Jim Edwards says, “People have to understand there will always be that unfortunate time when an accident will happen on the sporting field or in the vehicle where you were a physically fit young person, could become a paraplegic.”
That's where this charitable trust steps in, upskilling those with disabilities to find employment but with very limited funding. Edwards has had to make up the financial shortfall.
He says, “I've got to do my best while I can and I'll do everything that I can and if it's money then its money it leaves us short, my wife glares at me, and we go without.”
The Trust has been operating since 1994 and is only funded for up to 20 people, but they have stretched that number up to 25 because of the need.
Raegen Gardner says, “My son is 20 and has a undiagnosed neurological condition and visual impairment. Ngā Tukemata o Kahungunu vocational services was the only services in Hawke's Bay that would take him due to the lack of funding and being able to provide support workers at other places.”
He says there needs to be a review of the structure of funding distribution if vocational services are to keep operating.
Edwards says, “We just need someone to look at that closely at look at better financial assistance wherever they can.”
He has been given the Pride of New Zealand Lifetime Achievement Award for his work within vocational services, and it's something he says he'll keep on doing.