Lifewise Merge Café, situated at 453 Karangahape Road, plays a crucial role in supporting Auckland’s homeless community, breaking down societal barriers and offering a warm, safe and supportive space.
The café attracts people from all walks of life. With a goal to end homelessness in Auckland, customers who can are encouraged to pay a little extra to support people experiencing homelessness.
Transpower’s grant will facilitate a number of projects that will update Merge Café’s facilities and provide more space for patrons at the café that has been running since 2010 and has over 11,000 people pass through its doors each year.
“We are needing to upgrade kitchen equipment and refresh the café amenities as well as replace outdoor furniture and add an awning and heaters for our courtyard”, said Lifewise Merge Café Business Manager Julia West said.
A regular volunteer and identity at Merge Café, ‘Shadow’, said the Café is a source of emotional as well as nutritional nourishment:
“It’s like a family lounge where whānau come in. It’s a good place with good people. I’ve been coming here ever since it first opened. The food is cheaper here and friends are closer. Everyone connects here including business people. We all get on and workers interact with homeless people and talk like they’ve been best friends for years. It’s pretty much like a little community here.”
Transpower is pleased to have been able to support the project.
“Just like Merge Café our network is also about sustaining connections“, said Transpower Stakeholder Engagement Manager Geoff Wishart.
“Our substation is just around the corner on Hobson St, and like homelessness – just as invisible unless you know about it. With those sort of synergies, it feels right to provide a helping hand”, said Mr Wishart.
Since inception of Transpower’s CommunityCare Fund in 2007 over 450 community projects around the country have been funded to a total value of nearly $10 million.
With most of the funding now secured, Merge Café expects to start the refurbishment work this January and have it completed by the end of 2019.