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Wayne Williams is so passionate about creating safer communities, that he works with the organisation Safer North. Originally from Cromwell, Wayne now resides in Silverdale with his family but his work takes him all across the North Shore. He’s a keen sailor, sportsman, businessman, uni student and coach and enjoys spending time with his children and grandchildren. Wayne tells Channel Magazine about what Safer North is all about and why he continues to do community-based work.
Courtney Bennett: Explain to readers what Safer North Community Trust is all about…
Wayne Williams: Safer North is Auckland North's Injury Prevention and Safe Community Coalition. We promote various injury prevention activities because when an injury is prevented, we have a safer community. Our work includes Child Safety, Road Safety, Suicide Prevention, Fall Injury Prevention, Crime Prevention, Water Safety, Family, Sexual and Domestic Violence prevention, Youth Distracted Driving Safety, Alcohol Abuse and Home Safety. We have a Board of Trustees that include different elements of our community, including Education, Council, Police, Local Boards, Health, School Board of Trustees, ACC, Water Safety and Youth Work. We are mostly supported by funding from the Ministry of Health, Lotteries and Council.
CB: Why are you involved with the Safer North Community Trust?
WW: As a sportsman I was often struck by injury and became very familiar with repair and recovery. I had hands-on experience that was transferable to this injury prevention environment. I know what it's like to have two shoulder reconstructions, dislocations, knee surgery, total ankle replacement, concussion and have friends and family also experience injury trauma. What family isn't subject to serious injury at some stage? I suggest very few.
CB: Have you always been involved in the community?
WW: I grew up in a family where my dad and mum were very community-minded. Dad was involved in many organisations where everything was done by groups of volunteers, including running the biggest one day A & P Show in New Zealand. My community involvement was mostly centered on sports clubs - coaching junior athletics, girls' netball, ski club management, children's golf director, surf lifesaving club parent assist, golf club executive and resident's association planning committee.
CB: What does a typical day look like for you?
WW: Much of my work time is unfortunately desk bound so it is nice to out in the community when projects are occurring. I meet with various agencies and community groups to assist with their issues or programmes. One current project is to make the over-congested safety zone outside the Target Road School safer. This involves Safer North, Auckland Transport, Council, Police, School, Students and the school's Board of Trustees.
CB: What’s the best part about working for a local organisation?
WW: I like the fact that you can often see the results quickly. Knowing that you have influenced many people, for example young parents about child seat restraint safety in motor vehicles or employers about anti-bullying measures, is a great feeling. You get to interface with the people that are also local and come to understand their situations, issues and suggestions.
CB: What other community groups or charitable organisations do you admire and why?
WW: I admire those that work with youth at risk. I'm a Trust Board Member of the Hibiscus Youth Centre and I see great work that they do every day involving youth. For them it is about fostering leadership, self esteem, empowerment and family strengths. They run a suicide prevention programme and crime prevention modules also. It's about turning youth into capable young adults with a direction ahead.
CB: What do you like most about your local community?
WW: My new community is considered young. Most of my neighbours have been here for less than 10 years. I do, however, consider Auckland North as my community, which as we know, has four Local Boards and 300,00 population. It's one large community which is able to share what it has. The quality of the community will determine the quality of new migrants, new businesses, workers, facilities, investments, schools and transports systems.
CB: Anything you feel we could do better as a community?
WW: We really do need to nurture safety in our lives. We Kiwis are very good at spending on new tools and later reading the instruction safety manual after the injury. Like many charitable organisations, we are wanting to do much more but are restricted by the funding available. Key projects subject to obtaining additional funding are new initiatives focused on falls prevention for the over 60's, family, sexual and domestic violence reduction and distracted driving. I believe these are all very important and, if properly addressed, will have a large impact on our whole community of Auckland North.
CB: In my next life, I am going to come back as…
WW: A retriever that can live to 100 years, mostly injury free.
Channel Magazine: Issuu 60 November 2015