Hone Fowler and his team at the Mangere East Community Centre are passionate about making a difference in their local community. Born and raised in the area, he studied Community Development at the University of Auckland and is now leading the Centre’s work to provide support for the 35,000 residents of Mangere East.
Hone has been the manager of the Centre for the past three years. With more than 2000 locals coming through the Centre’s door each week, he has a deep understanding about the needs of his community. One of the issues that has been concerning him for a number of years are the negative effects and alcohol related harm in Mangere East.
“Over a number of years we have seen a proliferation of liquor stores in our community. We have liquor stores on nearly every corner,” he shares. “It particularly concerns me to see alcohol being sold close to schools and near public spaces. When young people see this they get the impression that buying and consuming alcohol anywhere and at any time is normal. It’s not and it’s causing considerable harm across our community.”
As part of the Centre’s work to reduce alcohol related harm, Hone and his team have coordinated a group called Respect Our Community Campaign (ROCC). For the past four years, ROCC have worked to oppose applications for new or renewed liquor licences in a bid to reduce the number of stores selling alcohol in the community. Over this time, ROCC have attended and presented to eight District Licensing Committee hearings on behalf of their community.
“Participating in these committees is very time consuming and unfortunately, despite presenting strong evidence as to the harm associated with alcohol, we have had little success in reducing the number of liquor stores in our community. So we’ve decided to look at what else we can to address alcohol related harm in Mangere East.”
The Centre has decided to focus on young people and is part way through phase one of an exciting co-design process which engages young people, as well as their parents and teachers, to create harm reduction initiatives based on what young people know will work for them, based on their own experiences.
Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura is supporting the Centre in their co-design journey aimed at increasing the well-being, health and sense of self-worth of Mangere East’s younger residents.
“Getting young people to think differently about alcohol and how its impacting them and involving them in the solution is fundamental to sustainable behaviour change,” says Rachel Enosa, Chief Executive of the Alliance Community Initiative Trust. “It’s a great example about what Healthy Families NZ is all about – community leadership enabling transformational change in the places we live, learn, work and play. We are thrilled to be supporting the Mangere East Community Centre in their work to address alcohol related harm in their community.”