Manna Youth Home – a changemaker story

About This Project

When Priscilla got a text saying ‘check out this YouTube clip’, she had no idea it would lead to her moving to Taranaki to start Manna Youth Home. Priscilla, an experienced Social Worker, knew first hand the challenges facing Rangatahi who needed to leave home, or who were exiting ‘the system’, so when the opportunity to reimagine a 2-acre property in the heart of Oakura came along, she jumped at it. Today, you’ll find Manna Youth Home buzzing with up to six 16-21 year olds, plus a team of Youth Workers, calling this place home as they gain skills and relationships needed to succeed in the next phase of their lives.

In operation for close to 30 years as an adult respite centre ‘Manna Healing Centre’ was a place of healing for those facing stress or trauma. In 2019, the doors closed. The board of the Healing Centre knew this place could still offer refuge, but were at a loss as to how this could be done sustainably and who was best to lead this work to meet current needs. They needed a guide.

They found that guide in BAF, who have enabled the new expression of Manna to emerge by providing essential strategic, governance and financial leadership. Priscilla shares that “our startup journey would have been so different without BAF… they brought credibility and connections that opened doors easily”. Thanks to BAF you’ll find strong partnerships between Oranga Tamariki and the passionate youth workers at Manna Youth Home, all focused on serving the needs of vulnerable young people, helping them get ready to transition into independent living.

“Knowing there’s a trusted organisation [BAF], who know what they’re doing, enables us to focus on relationships with young people” says Priscilla, Manager of Manna Home.

Manna Youth Home has just celebrated one year of being open. Evenings revolve around sharing food and playing games. On weekends everyone gets out in nature together; surfing, hiking and exploring Taranaki’s beauty. It’s these simple rhythms combined with intentional mentoring, during and after stays, that are unlocking new levels of trust, connections, self esteem and hopefulness in the rangatahi who become part of the Manna whānau. What the team have created is a genuine whānau community.

As we talk, Priscilla recalls the change she’s seen in that first young woman who stayed 8 months, and has remained connected through her Manna mentor and weekly visits for whānau dinners.

“She’s got multiple adults supporting her. So she knows that she is loved. She has a sense of belonging with us. It’s what we All need. Trusting people comes into everything, whether it’s learning to live in community with others, whether it’s a job, trust is so huge. So for them to be able to get to this place of sense of belonging and trust people will impact the rest of their life and every other relationship.” 

With strong foundations in place, Manna Youth Home is looking towards the future and exploring how they can increase their reach to respond to the current housing crisis and step out as their own charity in order to resource these aspirations.

To find out more about Manna Home, or support their work, contact the team

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