Social change was a defining feature of the 1970s and feminism was a key part of this transformation. During this time, a group of women active in the Glenfield area became concerned about women’s health. The first course they delivered was designed to help women develop ways of dealing with their own and their family’s health, and to increase their self-esteem and self-confidence. After they obtained funding for a full-time worker, Glenfield Women’s Community Health Co-operative was established. The present North Shore Women’s Centre grew out of this initiative, with most of the work completed by volunteers. Courses offered included Parenting, Women’s Health, and a support group for women with eating difficulties.
As the programmes developed, the Co-operative changed its name to the NORTH SHORE WOMEN’S CENTRE to better reflect the continuing development of its services, which included counselling as well as telephone support, drop-in support and a range of educational courses. In 1991, a new Trust Deed was signed and North Shore Women’s Centre became a Charitable Trust. At this stage, a second counsellor was appointed and new programmes for women experiencing anorexia and bulimia were established.
In the mid 90’s, the video “Broken Boundaries” was produced. It focused on the damage caused when professionals sexually abuse their clients. This was followed by “Private Pain”, which looked at parents and caregivers’ reactions to the sexual abuse of their children. The last video produced was called “Kids in Court” and was made for children who needed to appear in court as witnesses. A free Legal clinic for women was established at this time. One day a week women lawyers provided free of charge a “one-off” half-hour appointment for women who needed these services. Within a year, this was extended to 2 days per week.
By the late 90’s early 2000’s, the Centre employed four staff members and three counsellors, both part-time and full-time. A Coordinator oversaw the running of the Centre, but it still operated as a Co-operative. As the Centre grew and developed, it became evident that the Trust Board could not continue to function in this way. A new Governance Board was appointed consisting of women not directly employed at the Centre, and a Manager was selected to oversee the day-to-day running of the organisation. The Centre now operates under a management structure, although many principles of collectivism are still evident in the way the Centre operates.
North Shore Women’s Centre prides itself on responding to the needs of the women in our community. We provide core social services: a home based social worker, counsellors, a legal clinic, information and referral. North Shore Women’s Centre is funded by various philanthropic trusts and Oranga Tamariki funding services that benefit women and their families in our community.