A Home for Haven

Haven Foundation found its new home at the old Battersby Funeral site in May last year, but Haven is anything but new to Avondale, doing good in the hood now for some 30 years ...

Haven’s manager, Sue Thirkettle has been with Haven since its inception.

You may know Sue through her involvement with the Avondale Community Action (ACA) group, though she is someone who prefers to work behind the scenes. Sue was a founding member of the ACA alongside Gail Fotheringham, Michelle Ardern, Nina Patel and Jody Yawa McMillan - a group of women who saw the need for a parent organisation in Avondale to facilitate other good works in the area.

One of the first acts of the ACA was to start the ethically-approved Household Survey in 2014, to gauge resident opinions about their suburb – no small undertaking for a new organisation. (Results may still be found at www.avondalecommunityaction.org.nz).

A creative project helped gather the creative people who formed Whau the People. The interdisciplinary arts collective has gone on to produce five annual Whau Arts Festivals – a huge boon to the community. And the ACA has supported community workers Dayne Smith and Leilani Bennett with “I Love Avondale” helping to establish its community development funding.

But prior to this, Sue had already been working in Avondale with Haven Foundation, or Kodesh as it was known until recently. The foundation changed its name to Haven to celebrate its early beginnings in the ‘70s when founders Geoff and Gayle Stevens ran a rehab home called The Haven in Herne Bay. Based on Christian principles, The Haven’s model provided living accommodation for addicts in recovery, along with ongoing support - it was a unique model at the time that proved to be highly successful.

Haven Foundation’s services have morphed over the years. It has supported the community and community groups in a host of different ways. Its key function now is to provide support to community groups with governance and administration empowering others to achieve.

It’s certainly not the only charitable work Sue is involved in. Outside of Haven, Sue works with Restorative Justice Waitakere.

It is now mandatory for offenders to be referred to restorative court justice.

“If victims wish to meet with their offender, we will facilitate a face to face meeting,” says Sue. “They can tell the offender about how the crime has affected them. A common question asked by a victim of home burglary for instance might be, ‘Why my house; am I being watched?’ But 80% of the time burglaries are just random, so that alleviates some concern.”

“Quite often the impact on the victim is far more than what the offender had any idea of, and so the victim has a real sense of being heard. It’s a way for victims to have a voice in the court system, which they don’t otherwise have,” says Sue,”and I have seen some incredible outcomes.”

Sue is also involved with Parent Aid, a group she helped found over a decade ago. Parent Aid supports parents/grandparents with children under the age of five who are feeling isolated for a variety of reasons - from having no vehicle, no whanau, who suffer from health issues or with a lack of English that prevents them from accessing resources.

“I am passionate about supporting and enabling groups and individuals and so I have spent my adult life serving… ” says Sue.