Stepping Stones, a Place to be Me

Stepping Stones is a community service run by Family Works in South Dunedin, promoting mental and social well-being and resilience. The programme puts significant emphasis on connecting participants with people in the community. The group meets each day, except Saturdays, to create, talk, and connect.

Louise Roberts, who has managed this program for 16 years, says this service provides a safe, non-judgmental and positive environment, where participants are encouraged to take up lots of different opportunities and activities. People stay involved as long as they want to be, and choose how often and in what ways they would like to participate.  “One of the patterns we see emerging is for people taking on roles and responsibilities within the group, then stepping up to volunteer and even going on to find employment”, says Louise.

The success of Stepping Stones over the past 24 years and into the future lies in its acceptance and respect for people as they are, and in its capacity to connect participants with the community in which they live.

Louise says the participants enjoy a wide range of activities and outings across the week, including art, craft, sewing, housie and woodworking. There are also day trips to places such as Brighton, Dunedin Botanic Garden, op shopping, and out to Port Chalmers to view the cruise ships. “We have a special three-night trip to Camp Columba coming up soon, and we’ve already raised $500 towards that with our recent garage sale.”

“Sometimes we have special guest visitors to the programme, and we really love that. We’ve even had a beekeeper and a visiting portrait artist. A couple of years ago, poet Rob Gee came to facilitate a group poetry writing session, and out of that came a wonderful poem, that captures a lot of what we do here and the feeling of belonging that creates.”

If you have a skill or interest you would like to share with this group, or would like to visit and find out more, please get in touch with Louise on 03 470 0815 or by email



Stepping Stones is a fun place to be.

There’s no candelabra, but lots of camaraderie.

You can make friends forever,

new and old.

Lunch is a bargain,

whether it’s hot or cold.

Everything’s served with a smile,

all the while, on your dial.

We go on tiki tours everywhere.

We have good times

and we like to share.

We do smoking cessation, because

we care.

We’re inspired to create

with our newfound mates.

There’s woodwork and sewing

and sometimes there’s bingo.

If you have an idea,

we’ll give it a go.

So if you’re feeling down,

come and lose your frown.

You’ll be amused,

‘cause there’s nothing to lose,

as we’re the best in town!


In their own words

Participants share their thoughts about Stepping Stones:

“A lot of us live alone and we come here for the company.”

“I have agoraphobia, but I know it’s important to be around people, so I come here.”

“We feel comfortable here, it’s a safe place.”

“If we have a problem, Louise can help us or she can tell us where to find help.”

“I have a brain injury and social anxiety. Coming here has helped me combat loneliness.”

“Since coming here, I now have the confidence to say ‘no’ to things I don’t want to do. I used to feel that I had to say ‘yes’ to everything.”