Friendship House – the human touch in a concrete city
By Corazon Miller
Deep in the bustling heart of Manukau City sits Friendship House, which calls itself a place for people.
Established in 1979 Friendship House is a social service centre that has grown and evolved in response to the changing needs of the community it is called to serve.
Located next to Westfield Shopping Mall, Friendship House was a gift to the community from six mainline churches: the Anglicans, Methodists, Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists and Salvation Army. It serves as a living Christian presence in the city, challenging injustice and working to create a thriving, peaceful community.
Today Friendship House is a busy place that continues as an ecumenical agency, and a base for ministry and work. The doors of Friendship House are open to individuals, families and communities, regardless of their denomination. The house acts in God's name, extending a welcoming hand to all those in need.
The location of the house has fostered its growth and enabled the formation of vital relationships within the community. Friendship House director Rev Vicki Sykes says it has grown out of the city in response to the needs of the community.
It is a place for all people, providing ministry, mission, hospitality and justice in the context of the city. Their work moves beyond its physical boundaries to touch people outside of their walls and within the larger circumference of the city.
A multicultural team provides the programmes and facilities on offer at Friendship House. The team works with those who want to build satisfying relationships and move towards building positive lives of purpose.
The services Friendship House offers range from a drop in-centre and caf?, to advice, social work, counselling and education. 'Living without Violence' is a programme the house offers to men.
"Domestic Violence is unfortunately a big issue in our community," says Vicki Sykes.
She says communities are vital to providing a sense of belonging, and forming relationships that nurture and encourage people so they can reach their full potential.
"A community flourishes in a climate of peace and justice, where everyone has the opportunity to find meaning within their lives. Friendship House strives to provide such a place, where people can feel secure enough within themselves and others so that they can find this meaning."
Because of its many services, Friendship House has earned a valued place within Manukau. People's lives have been touched and irreversibly changed for the better through the vision of the house and the unique ministry it provides to all people.
As Friendship House looks to the future, it will endeavour to remain true to its original calling but will inevitably be shaped by the changing needs of the community of Manukau.
Friendship House has become a symbol of what can be achieved when denominations work together in order to provide for their community.