Support available for rangatahi during lockdown

Published: September 22, 2021

The team at Tuilaepa Youth Mentoring Services (TYMS) in West Auckland are continuing to provide remote mentoring and academic support during lockdown.

Dale Rasmussen and Robson Tavita
TYMS General Manager Dale Rasmussen (left) and Founder/Head of Advocacy Robson Tavita (right)

General Manager Dale Rasmussen says their teachers are available to deliver Digital Learning via Zoom video calls to rangatahi in the Residential Remand homes.  The main focus for teachers during lockdown has been to provide rangatahi with activities to keep their minds and bodies active – this supports their wellbeing.

“Rangatahi who are in the transition to adulthood service are probably the group that require the most support during lockdown so we have provided food vouchers, phones and helped them stay connected through providing phone credit and internet connections.”

Mentors are also providing support remotely via text, phone, video call and gaming platforms.

“A lot of the time we check in with our young people to support their wellbeing, but also to find out what’s happening in the home and how we can provide resource and support to the whānau.  We also see a critical part of our role as sharing or connecting whānau with important information like COVID testing, vaccinations and how to stay safe.”

Access to kai

Rasmussen says food is the number one priority for whānau during lockdown.

TYMS are working with food providers to supply food vouchers and food parcels for whānau.

Dale Rasmussen says their service has utilised food support services like Fono, Affirming Works, Southseas, Salvation Army and VisionWest Community Trust to deliver kai to whānau in need.

“What we found is, one of the challenges for families is they don’t have a vehicle to pick up food from the foodbank so if a food provider does not deliver, then our TYMS team can pick up the food parcel from providers and deliver directly to whanau in need.”

Support for staff at TYMS

TYMS is deemed an essential service by the government so providing their services where safe and possible is important.

Their focus has also been on the safety and wellbeing of staff and ensuring they are delivering their work in line with Ministry of Health guidelines.

“Most of our staff have children which can be a challenge trying to work from home and home school at the same time. It’s important staff look after themselves and their families.”

Rasmussen says despite the challenges the staff always strive to ensure the young people are supported, well prepared and successfully switch over to remote delivery of their services.

TYMS programmes for rangatahi

TYMS deliver a number of group mentoring prevention programmes alongside the work they do with Oranga Tamariki. TYMS currently have 24 rangatahi in their Youth Justice service and 44 in their Transition to Adulthood service. TYMS and Oranga Tamariki have a strong relationship. The ministry funds a number of their programmes including Youth Justice Mentoring, Transition to Adulthood and Community Youth Mentoring. Oranga Tamariki also fund two new pilot programmes including the Mamanu Cultural Programme, a pacific programme held four times a year, where rangatahi in the youth justice system or at-risk of entering the youth justice system are engaged in a weeks’ learning and connecting with their pacific whakapapa.

Engaging rangatahi during lockdown

TYMS is currently facilitating an online gaming competition with Youth Justice rangatahi as a way to touch base, keep connected and to relieve stress from parents at home during Level 4. The competition will also continue during Level 3. Dale Rasmussen says the level of engagement has been highly successful with Playstation V-Bucks vouchers up for grabs for the winners.

More information about Tuilaepa Youth Mentoring Services

TYMS is a Pacific-led cultural and relationship-based intervention service that provides mentoring, advocacy and support for primarily Māori and Pacific Youth and their families.

The service was founded by Robson Tavita to address a need he saw in his community to support young people to get the education they need to succeed.

The name “Tuilaepa” is in honour of Robson’s late father, Tuilaepa Ropisone Tavita, who dedicated his life to making sure his family grew up understanding the importance of honesty, integrity, loyalty and a good work ethic.