Newcomers network active again

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JOHN.COSGROVE@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

The scenic beauty of Nugget Point Lighthouse in the Catlins greeted five members of the Clutha Newcomers Network who walked to the lighthouse as part of a group gathering last Friday.

New Zealand Newcomers Network Clutha volunteer co-ordinator Lisa Given said they were part of a network of 40 groups throughout New Zealand welcoming newcomers to districts.

“I was a bit worried about the weather as the day before was terrible and it was still pretty cold but we had a good walk and chat on the way to the lighthouse,” Ms Given said.

“Some of us took photos as we have a common interest in photography.

“It was good to see that there was quite a lot of tourists and people on the walk which was surprising.”

While working for Clutha District Settlement Support, Ms Given heard they wanted start up a Clutha Newcomers Network but needed a volunteer co-ordinator to get it all set up and running earlier this year.

“I thought it sounded like something I would like to do so I put my hand up and went about getting everything set up: our own email address, website section, Facebook page and logo,” she said.

“Sadly everything was set up and I was about to start when lockdown happened so everything was put on hold.”

As soon as Level 2 arrived she organised a walking event up to the Nugget Point Lighthouse, near Kaka Point, which had a mix of newcomers and others who just wanted to get out for a walk and meet some new people.

“That is the cool thing about the newcomers network, it’s open for everyone whether you’re new to the district or just wanting to connect with others.

“Since the Facebook page has been up and running I have had a few people message to say they are struggling with being lonely and finding it hard to make friends.

“I think during the post-lockdown period everyone is wanting to get out and about and start socialising again. Future events will include walking groups such as June 19, when we are walking the Blair Athol track in Balclutha, meeting at Naish Park at 10.30am, coffee mornings, dining out and drinks at the pubs and restaurants which will also help to support local business.”

She said she was looking for other volunteer co-ordinators to set up and run events in Tapanui, Lawrence and Milton.

Anyone wanting to help or join the Clutha Newcomers Network can email Ms Given at Clutha@nullnewcomers.co.nz, www.newcomers.co.nz/regions/otago/clutha-newcomers-network/ or connect via their Facebook page.