COP CHARITY highlights the admirable work carried out by our featured charity in supporting the mental wellbeing of youth in New Zealand.
Recently, COP had the pleasure of sitting down with a local woman of inspiration Thérèse Grevatt, a volunteer at ‘Sanctuary House’, the youth house run by COP’s featured charity, Challenge 2000. We spoke to Thérèse to learn about her heart for the youth of New Zealand and her involvement in Challenge 2000.
Thérèse Grevatt, youth worker.
COP: So tell us a little bit about your background, and how you got involved with Challenge 2000 and Sanctuary House?
TG: My connection started 7 years ago; I was in my first year of university and wasn’t feeling totally fulfilled. I was studying anthropology and economics, but at the end of the year, I felt I needed to do something different. I came across the Challenge 2000 gap year programme, and a couple of friends who had been through the program told me to go for it - I had nothing to lose!
It’s really an amazing programme. It’s basically a year of work experience in youth work and other fields through connections the staff have. I personally did teacher aiding and youth work. For people who are interested in making a difference, it’s an awesome opportunity to take a step back and get inspired.
All the staff are amazing and care so much for the wellbeing of our young people. After my gap year programme, I continued working at Challenge 2000 as a youth worker. This year I have started tutoring maths to one of the young people at Sanctuary House.
COP: Tell us about Challenge 2000, Sanctuary House, and the work they do?
TG: Challenge 2000 is a social and youth work agency, providing various programmes across wider Wellington to support the wellbeing of young people. They help bridge the gap between youth in need and people who desire to make a difference. Youth justice is a big focus of Challenge 2000, along with youth ministry, mentoring and leadership within local schools.
Part of the service Challenge 2000 offers is through Sanctuary House; a live-in support for young girls in need. Challenge 2000 currently run five youth houses. The youth houses exist for three reasons; to provide a safe place to live for young people in need, to give staff the opportunity to share their skills and to journey alongside these young people, to build a Christian community for those living in the house and to create a whanau-like environment.
Through Sanctuary House, young people are given the opportunity to attend schools, which for some, had been inaccessible due to living in remote, rural areas. Challenge 2000 gives young people the ability to thrive in areas such as school and work (as some have transitioned into the workforce).
At Sanctuary House, young people are equipped with practical life skills. There is definitely a culture of learning to contribute and pull your weight around the house. If you ever visit one of the houses it’s always the young people doing the dishes and chores. The team at Challenge 2000 focuses on cultivating the importance of community and it’s really cool to see young people become each other’s role models.
COP: What is your favourite part about volunteering with Sanctuary House?
TG: For me, it’s really inspiring to see a shared passion for building support and community between the staff and the young people. Seeing young people thrive in the opportunities they have been given is also very special.
COP: What have you learnt from your role as a volunteer at Sanctuary House?
TG: You’ve got to take the ups with the downs, and understanding that each day is a new day. When you’re working with young people, it helps to draw from your own teenage experience and remembering that it wasn’t always easy when your world revolved so much around your peers. I’ve also learnt that young people are amazing, resilient and talented!
COP: Would you say this role has grown your heart of compassion?
TG: Yes, I have always considered myself a compassionate person, but when you are in that environment you really do have to exercise it.
COP: What are your hopes and dreams for Sanctuary House?
TG: I would like for each young woman who walks through the door into Sanctuary House to receive the support she is needing - throughout her time at the house as well as after she leaves. Being a part of Sanctuary House is like being a part of a whanau, the staff and all the young people involved genuinely care about each other. I hope the heart of Sanctuary House will continue to grow so that more lives can be impacted.
COP: What else would you like others to know about Challenge 2000 and Sanctuary House?
TG: That the staff really go above and beyond. Youth work and social work are such admirable professions, to these people, it is more than just a job. It is a lifestyle choice and they are the ones on the frontline changing the lives our young people. Government policies are policies, but it is these people who are investing their time, effort, blood, sweat and tears in empowering the young people of New Zealand.