The Work Co-op has been operating out of a villa in Wharf Road in Coromandel Town for over 15 years and is run like a big whanau where everyone supports each other to set and achieve goals. The programme supports people within the township and remote outlying areas who have a mental health issue and or intellectual and physical disability as well as probation clients to complete their community service hours and safely reintegrate into the community and youth transitioning from school into employment and training. The Work Co-op villa is always a hive of activity with participants cooking and eating lunch together daily, learning new computer skills, creating art, gardening and preparing catering for events.

The Work Co-op are very involved with and valued by the community. Participants provide catering for events at local marae and within the township, particularly funerals; mow the lawns at a local urupa; and help kuia and kaumatua with household and gardening chores. Local events supported include a special breakfast and morning tea at the local RSA for ANZAC Day and RSA Commemorations every year, Barry Brickell’s Memorial Service in February 2016 and in October they supported kaumatua with catering for the Kaumatua Special Olympics for Hauraki held at the RSA Hall in Coromandel. The group thoroughly enjoyed the day and are now even more widely known for their delicious baking and decadent cakes!

Every week art and craft classes are held with the participants in a variety of different mediums, the results of which are exhibited regularly in a local café and sell well at other sites around the township. Table place mats, cards and cushions are the most popular items purchased. People can bring in their own projects from home to work on or start something new. Wheat bags were made and donated to Phoenix House and fabric books and soft toys were made and donated to the community pre-school. Presents are also made for family and friends.
In September 2016 the group went to the Hamilton Craft and Quilt Fair held at the Claudelands Event Centre in Hamilton and came back with fantastic ideas for future projects. Watch this space!

Work Co-op participants are supported to achieve goals set in their individual plans. Many members have issues with housing and have identified this as an important goal. One participant, Russell, who has a visual impairment wished to renovate his home so that he could live independently safely and have a good home environment to share with his partner and new baby on the way. He was supported to connect with the Habitat for Humanity Brush with Kindness programme, for a complete house renovation.

This was the second such project, occurring mainly over one weekend and was an impressive community effort. Members from the Work Co-op provided enthusiastic labour, a builder came up from Hamilton to help out for free, other whanau and friends joined in and local businesses James Drainage, Coromandel Glass and tradesman Sid Waara donated time and materials. Russell and his new family have settled in well to their transformed home.