An evaluation report into Koha Kai, a Southland-based project providing skills and work opportunities for vulnerable adults, has concluded its impact is immense and multilayered.
Koha Kai provides opportunities for vulnerable adults, particularly those living with physical or intellectual disabilities, to learn new skills and engage in meaningful work.
Community Trust South in partnership with the Koha Kia Charitable Trust commissioned an external evaluation to identify and document the outcomes associated with Koha Kai and to support Koha Kai to become more sustainable. Community Trust South has been a significant funder of Koha Kai since 2017, initially through its Innovation Fund and more recently through general granting.
The report findings show a ripple effect with regards to the impact of Koha Kai, with outcomes being evident for trainees, whānau, schools and the wider community.
The greatest impact is on trainees themselves, with life satisfaction and wellbeing showing significant improvement. Koha Kai enables trainees to take part in meaningful activity, gain a sense of purpose and feel valued. Trainees like knowing they are contributing to something worthwhile.
“It was great to see the outcomes expressed by the trainees in the report, they were happier, busier and less bored, with one trainee describing Koha Kai as a “lifesaver” and many more describing it as ‘life-changing”, Community Trust South Chair Trish Boyle said.
Other trainee outcomes include improved mental health, improved physical health, being engaged in formal and informal learning, and learning new skills. Some trainees have also gained external work experience and employment.
Chair of the Koha Kai Charitable Trust, Gary Tong said “The report provided evidence that the impact of Koha Kai is not just on the trainees in the programme. Whānau were quoted saying that Koha Kai had changed their lives, not just the lives of their children. One mother, whose child is now living independently in the community, said, “It has changed my world. I am no longer just a caregiver. I am a mother”.”
The report also details the positive impact Koha Kai has had on school children through its Lunches in Schools programme, as well as the wider community.
The factors that enable Koha Kai to achieve these outcomes include a strengths-based approach that focuses on ability rather than disability, supportive expectations that are high but achievable and flexible environments that are adapted to consider the nature of trainee disabilities.
Securing suitable funding to ensure ongoing sustainability was identified as the greatest area for Koha Kai’s development. Findings of the evaluation could therefore be used to discuss opportunities for core government and cross departmental funding.
A Summary Report as well as the full Koha Kai Evaluation report can be found on the Community Trust South website at www.communitytrustsouth.nz/our-impact/our-insights/