Whakarongo: Listening to the Kāpiti Coast Community Social Services Sector in Challenging Times
This research focuses on the Kāpiti Coast District community social services sector, exploring their experience of the 2008 economic and central government social policy changes. The recession and changing social policies increased pressure on the sector, at the same time as they were responding to increased stress and uncertainty in their communities. The research became an opportunity to give voice to the Kāpiti Coast community social services sector. The research was undertaken from a constructionist perspective, using critical inquiry and case study approaches. The research is presented in an approachable way, as it is hoped that the learning will be used by both the community sector and local government to help improve the way they work together. After setting the scene, the methodology used to listen to the Kāpiti Coast community social services sector is explained. The focus then moves onto the sector. Next, the themes that emerged from the data collected during the research are explored. To increase understanding of these themes, a number of theoretical perspectives are used, which have been selected across a range of disciplines, drawing most strongly on the social work discipline. The voice of the participants has been given primacy at all times; which is in line with the intention of the research, which is to empower the Kāpiti Coast community social services sector. It was helpful to delve into the triangle of relationships: the community social services sector, central and local government, and understand these relationships better. The way that the Kāpiti Coast community social services sector perceives itself, and how it works together and with others, proved a very interesting area of research. The research concludes that listening to the sector on their own terms is a way of addressing the power imbalance and an important step in improving the relationship between the sector and local government. Creating a bridge between the sectors can enable good place-based work to occur to improve social wellbeing in the Kāpiti Coast communities.