NorthTec student helping others with Open Arms

20 December 2019

NorthTec student helping others with Open Arms

Image: Kayla Tua, 32 (left) and NorthTec student, Rachel Herbert (right)

NorthTec student, Rachel Herbert, has organised and provided hairdressing and beauty treatments to those in need.

Rachel has just completed a Bachelor of Applied Social Work at NorthTec and has 10 years’ experience as a beauty therapist.  For one of the assignments in her BASW degree, Rachel needed to create a positive change initiative within her community and decided to combine her two passions of helping people and providing beauty treatments.

Rachel, alongside co-workers from Heads Up on Bank - Alyssa Hill, Kylie Olsen and Keitlyn Wellington - visit the Open Arms Centre / Te Ruruhau o Nga Ringa Ringa Tuwhera every third Monday of the month and provide free hair and beauty services to those in need.

“My first love is beauty therapy, I’ve been doing it since I was 16,” says Rachel. “I was looking for my next challenge and wanted to pursue something else and I believe there is a crossover between beauty and social work. Making someone look their best is a great connection point and it can be a nice distraction for people who are going through a hard time.”

Kayla Tua, 32, has visited this service twice now and says she feels lucky to have these services available to her and her family.

“Getting your hair cut is not cheap and this really helps especially for us mums! It makes us know our worth and helps us to feel good when we’re struggling.” Kayla says the Open Arms Centre is just amazing as it has taken a lot of weight off her shoulders.

“There is so much help, support and love pumped into this place. There’s food, hygiene facilities, budgeting and financial advice, medical assistance – I’ve been coming here for seven months now and they have even helped me into a home.”

Mokai Pene, mum of 12, said it was a blessing to use these services, especially for her children who really like the feeling of going to a hairdressing and getting their hair cut nicely but cannot afford it.

Samantha Cassidy, Centre Manager, said having the free haircuts and beauty treatments available regularly has been uplifting to the wairua/spirit of the people at Open Arms.

“Looking and feeling good always lifts the mind, body and soul, and our whānau are really appreciative,” she says. “The financial strain on many means that haircuts, beauty treatments, even the health clinics are a luxury and not a necessity.  Having these services provided here has been amazing for our whānau that are part of the centre as these services shouldn't be a luxury but an essential part of living life.”

Samantha says anyone from the community is welcome at Open Arms: “Every day there is kai here to full the puku for those struggling to have kai on the table. Anyone that walks through these doors is considered whānau - from staff, volunteers, service users, and the wider community. The first step is to walk in and say kia ora.”


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