Connect Community Trust was established by Hastings Church to provide more comprehensive governance to the social work being carried out by the church within the Hastings community. It is the social services arm of the church and led by Pastor Warren Heke.
One of the original services offered to the community by Connect Community Trust and Hastings Church was ‘Dinner at Five’ – a service providing hot meals once a week to solo mothers, and their children. This service ran for several years and became an avenue to provide additional wrap-around support to that cohort.
In 2015, a drop-in was started called ‘Community Connect’ drop-in. The number of visitors to the drop-in steadily increased, including people with more substantial needs. In 2016, the Hastings Church began to use the drop-in space on Sundays for a shared lunch where members of the church brought food to share with each other. As some frequent drop-in users were familiar with the space, they began joining the shared lunch. Following extensive word of mouth within the Hastings homeless community, the Sunday shared lunch grew, and continues
to this day.
In 2019, the plight of the homeless came into the spotlight as the whole country faced a significant housing crisis. Recognising the multi-disciplinary approach needed to support the community, Connect Community Trust invited other services to assist in providing wrap-around care to support vulnerable clients, enabling better support and long-term, client-led, positive outcomes.
During the COVID-19 level 4 lockdown, Connect Community Trust and the Hastings Church became actively engaged in finding a way to address the challenges faced by the chronically homeless community.
With the establishment of the Integrated Community Hub, a key to continued success for Connect Community Trust is nurturing strong, trusting, collaborative relationships not only with service users, but also providers and stakeholders.