Connecting Rural Residents

Manawatū and Rural Support Service and the Welcoming Communities Programme are working together to add a personal approach and understanding to the services available for our rural communities.

Moving to a new city, part of the District or even country takes courage.  Basic things like becoming acquainted with the layout of a new supermarket can displace us out of our normal rhythms and routines.  Couple that with starting a new job, a new commute to work - it can quickly feel overwhelming.  Now place yourself in all of those same ‘firsts’ but in a rural setting where your driveway is a couple of kilometres long, you don’t know anyone and a quick run to the supermarket when you’ve run out of sugar in the middle of baking is hardly an option.  This is the reality for many rural residents, and it can become isolating.

Approximately 50 years ago, these same realities were identified by Sister Mary Dunn and Judy Jack who were instrumental in founding Manawatu Rural Support Service (MRSS), a free confidential home-based information, support, advocacy, and referral services for rural families and communities. Today, MRSS is staffed by two caring and compassionate employees, Jo and Aevryl.

MRSS is for anyone living rurally whether he or she is new to the District or a lifelong resident and with a collaborative approach, the connections are client driven based on individual needs.  MRSS regularly makes house calls, visits playcentres and Schools, and interacts with rural residents both as a support person and a friend.

“The type of support has changed a lot since MRSS first started as we adapt to the changing needs of the rural communities.  What hasn’t changed though is the human need for connection and acceptance,” Aevryl explains. “Sometimes the support can be as simple as having a chat over a cuppa or more in-depth with an organised referral programme.”

Types of educational and referral programmes offered include independent ageing, civil defence, positive parenting, pride in our land campaigns, first aid, succession and power of attorney plans, cooking on a budget class and Online for Nine which help rural students prepare for larger schools and a change of routine when they transition to larger secondary schools.

MRSS is working alongside the Welcoming Communities Programme Coordinator, Sarah Deveau, to help shape the Welcoming Communities Programme and enhance the connection for Manawatū residents.   “The work the MRSS does is instrumental in building and connecting our rural communities with the services established”, Sarah says. “While MRSS has a rural focus, their values and approach are applicable to help create a more welcoming community across the Manawatū District.”

Not to be confused with Rural Support Trust who are nationwide but only work with farmers, MRSS is specific to the Manawatū District adding a personal approach and understanding to the services available, our rural communities and the support and programmes delivered.

To get in touch with Jo and Aevryl at Manawatu Rural Support Services email or call 06 323 2429.