10 years ago on the 3rd of June 2016, the Nelson Newcomers Network was established to help people new to the region to connect with other newcomers and make new friends. Fast track 10 years and the Nelson Newcomers Network has supported hundreds of members with their resettlement through providing opportunities for people to meet and making the transition to their new home easier. The exciting celebration is enhanced by Volunteer Nelson taking the Nelson Newcomers Network under its wing.
In the 2005 ‘Settling In Nelson-Tasman report’, isolation, settling into a new community and making friends were three of the issues identified. To address this problem, the first ‘Settling In’ supported Newcomers Network was set up under the auspices of the Nelson Multicultural Council in 2006. Members loved it and the idea spread.
The Nelson Newcomers Network started with a very small group. One of the founders, Claire Nichols remembers: “in the beginning it started as just a coffee group but as people connected with Nelson Newcomers Network, people came out of the woodwork and now it has a multitude of activities going”. “It’s very heart-warming seeing the host community and newcomers stepping in to get involved”.
Taking the first step to meet new people can be a scary thing for people, but through the Newcomers Network most other people are in the same boat so it makes it a little easier and is comforting. One newcomer said: “It took me a couple of months to pluck up the courage to go, and have to admit I found it really hard walking into the cafe at first. But I was warmly welcomed and accepted and after a few weeks I started to feel like I belonged. I have made some lovely friends and have never been happier with my life.”
We rely on the goodwill of volunteers to support the running and planning of events and activities. We currently have a small number of dedicated volunteers who lead the coffee mornings, walking groups, luncheon club and drinks night, to name just a few. We are always looking for volunteers to start up a new activity or organise a one-off event.
As of August 2016, Volunteer Nelson will be the umbrella organisation to support the Nelson Newcomers Network. It’s wonderful that Volunteer Nelson is responding to this community need. This is a fabulous partnership and we are excited to work with our current and new volunteers within this new structure.