The wellness hub at Greg Miller’s Valley d’Vine restaurant will provide free mental health support to people in Hawke’s Bay struggling with the ongoing psychological effects of Cyclone Gabrielle. “Everyone’s been talking about the recovery and what needs to happen, but mental health is going to be the biggest need going forward,” Greg says. “It’s going to take years for people to recover from this…some people have lost everything.”
“Everyone’s been talking about the recovery and what needs to happen, but mental health is going to be the biggest need going forward,”
The restaurateur is a big supporter of mental health, having lost many friends to suicide, and experiencing his own dark days after losing a previous restaurant business. Valley d’Vine is situated at Linden Estate Winery, owned by Bruce Jans. Last year Greg organised a charity event at the winery, raising almost $200,000 for Mike King’s charity I Am Hope.
As news of the extent of the flooding in Hawke’s Bay spread, the comedian sent Greg a text message to check in, but with widespread phone, power and internet outages, it was four days before he received the message. Meanwhile Greg, who lives next door to the restaurant, watched the flood waters “absolutely decimate” Linden Estate’s grounds, vineyards and architecturally designed cellar door and barrel hall, built three years ago.
“So many venues have been wiped out, what we need are places for people to get together and trained counselors to help those that are struggling,”
Fortunately, his second-storey restaurant remained unscathed, but with his business comprising 60% functions and events, Greg knew it would be untenable for some time. Upon receiving Mike’s message, he knew the restaurant would make an ideal community hub. “So many venues have been wiped out, what we need are places for people to get together and trained counselors to help those that are struggling,” he says. “Mike had already started raising funds for the Hawke’s Bay, and after we spoke on the phone and he heard the need, he pledged to donate 100% of funds to counselors on the ground doing the mahi and helping people who need it.”
While everyone was in “the venting stage” at the moment, sharing their experiences and getting stuck into the clean up, Greg anticipated the real issues would start to crop up in a few months' time, after all the disaster relief and support had dried up.
“We had a busy day yesterday, with about five people popping in to have a chat, we’ve got counselors out today doing house calls. The next step is to organise some community barbecues with bouncy castles for the kids so we can get together, check in on each other and make sure people are ok.
Other pop-up hubs with trained counselors were also underway and would continue as long as donations keep coming, Greg says. “The damage is so widespread; we want to make sure we get help to everyone that needs it.”
To make a donation towards counselling services for people affected by flooding in Hawke’s Bay, head to iamhope.org.nz.