Days numbered for Connect South

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In the aftermath of the recent social sector-wide hui, the board of Connect South is recommending to its members the organisation be wound up.

In the organisation’s August Connections newsletter, released on Wednesday, Connect South interim chairman Graeme Sykes said the organisation had struggled with its “identity, purpose and funding” in recent years.

Founded in the 1980s as the Dunedin Council of Social Services, Connect South has been through chaos since December, when it pulled out of managing Community House, citing funding issues, and suffered a mass walkout of staff.

Board members who attended the hui in July felt that Dunedin required a new, invigorated networking organisation that could offer advice as well as opportunities to collaborate, Mr Sykes said.

“There was a positive feeling that the Dunedin non-profit community organisations would benefit from a stronger networking agency.”

The board felt there was too much at stake to convert Connect South into a viable new organisation, and it would be easier for a new group to start from scratch and establish its purpose.

Therefore, at the Connect South annual meeting on September 18, the board would recommend the organisation be wound up.

“On one side, it is a little bit sad and on the other it is quite a relief that the decision has been made,” Mr Sykes said.

“It means the community can get on and concentrate on getting something done.”

It would take time to go through the process of winding up the organisation, but it would create space for a new group to get under way.

Work has been ongoing since the hui on July 23, in which Connect South partnered with Dunedin Community Builders to bring together 66 representatives of social sector, community organisations and government agencies to discuss strategies for the future.

“We are working to try and bring together the people who were keen to see something come out of the hui for a meeting in September,” Mr Sykes said.

A detailed report by meeting facilitators Jan Hudson and Anna Parker, of Dunedin Community Builders, had been sent to those who attended, and it was hoped more discussion and a strategy would emerge.

A working group meeting will be convened among those who expressed interest, and will discuss a vision and priorities, and future leadership of the group.

Mr Sykes said he was interested in being involved in the transition process, and could share his expertise in setting up new organisations and businesses.