Our Stories: Issue 65 

Girls Minds Matter is an organisation that is dedicated to the emotional and mental wellbeing of young women in Taranaki aged 12 - 24 years.

Sorcha Wolnik, Co-founder and Director, said the organisation was formed by five women who saw the need for extra support. “We came together out of a shared lived experience of mental distress in our own lives. The need for it is just the same or greater than when we were younger.”

The pilot programme, called True Connections, aims to support young women with wellbeing tools and connection, free of charge. “Our aim was to provide a safe, welcoming space where the young women could let down their masks, and share what is actually going on for them.

The main challenge was finding an accessible, safe location and transforming it into a welcoming and calming space.”

“We are next to the library, in the centre of New Plymouth. This is about centring the issues in the actual community, no longer on the outskirts, not having the stigma around mental health,” Sorcha said.

A grant of $50k from TSB Community Trust enabled the organisation to get off the ground. The organisation secured and furnished the premises, and started the pilot project in September 2020. “It was really important for us that we take responsibility for the young women in our community. We reached out to local streams of community funding to affirm to the girls that people in their community care about them.”

“The funding has allowed us to put all those systems and structures in place, including a website. Having a fully funded service available lets our girls know that there is somewhere that they can turn and know that the support is coming.” The organisation has helped around 40 young women so far.

“Our first project will come to an end in three weeks and already the feedback has been incredible. Hearing stories like their own has made the girls feel so much more empowered,” Sorcha said.