Big plans for community house


Cambridge Community House manager Joanne Turner wants the new building to still feel homely.

The Cambridge Community House has a pretty obvious problem – the two portable buildings out the front are spelling out the service’s need for more space.  Manager Joanne Turner (formerly MacLennan), who took over running the house last May, said growth in the community has stretched the house to capacity.

Council has come to the party, extending their lease by an extra 8 metres out the back, so planning is underway for a new building to ease the pressure. The new building, plans for which are still being finalised, is expected to have seven offices and a reception area, but will also need to have a welcoming feel, Joanne said.  “We are house by name and house by nature,” she said, adding that community feedback has clearly shown people value the homely feel of the current premises.

Joanne said the focus of the house is changing, too, as they want to encourage people to come in before they are at rock bottom.  “It’s fence at the top of the cliff stuff, rather than the ambulance at the bottom,” she explained.  “We’re there to help with life’s curve-balls.”

It’s all part of a move toward a more holistic service, centred on client wellbeing, including the free financial mentoring which is on offer at the house.

Kiri Gray, who has been at the house for the past 30 years, managing it until 2007, said she had her doubts about the financial mentoring model at first, but now sees the results it is yielding for her clients.  The old budgeting system just looked at the numbers, whereas financial mentoring also delves into what has led people to their current situation and what their goals are for the future, she explained.  “People are now looking forward rather than looking back…it really works well.”

Hopefully, over the coming months, both Joanne and Kiri’s rooms out the front will be replaced by a new office out the back as Cambridge Community House steps it up a notch to serve everyone in the community, no matter what walk of life they are from.

Because everyone can have a curve-ball from time to time.


Some of what the Cambridge Community House offers:

  • Financial mentoring

  • Counselling – including general counselling, drug and alcohol, anger management, and family violence

  • Education – offering courses in conjunction with other providers, including driver licence theory, literacy, and parenting workshops.

  • Second hand Cambridge school uniforms

  • A place of awhi and support

Visit for more information and the opportunity to donate to either the extension project or the other excellent work they do.

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