WIT’s seed germinated in 2000 with the need to support of one person. It now has over 300 clients on its books. The service was originally a project born out of some work done at The Light House in Napier, a drop-in centre run by people who have experience of mental illness. While peer support and advocacy was happening, there was an obvious need to support people in a more comprehensive way.
Some of these people had fallen through the cracks of the mental health system and needed advocacy as well as resources to find their way back into the community. They were commonly referred to as the “too-hard basket” and were either living on the street or not far from it.
The first person WIT supported was a man who had literally “escaped” from a Level Four residential rehabilitation unit. He had had a long history of using mental health services with frequent visits to the Intensive Psychiatric unit in Hastings. Another person followed, whose cost was tens of thousands of dollars in intensive treatment that included three to four visits a year to the inpatient unit a year. He has never been back to the unit in the years since WIT began supporting him. Another man followed and then another and another.
After more than a dozen of these stories WIT was born. The name WIT came from Hawke’s Bay DHB clinical team manager John Conneely who, when asked at a meeting why WIT was being successful, said: “Because they do whatever it takes”.
WIT now operates a Lighthouse day centre in both Napier and Hastings, recovery programmes at Manaia House in Napier, assists people into safe affordable housing, has a number of residential care facilities in the community, employs advocates to assist mental health consumers, operates ‘return to work’ programmes and provides whatever support folk with mental health difficulties need to live well in the community.