In 1994, with the closure of Porirua Hospital, mental health consumers, their families/whanau, community services providers, other organisations and mental health professionals, formed a working party to determine where there were gaps in mental health services for people living in the Hutt Valley.
It was recognised that there were very few openings for people with severe and/or ongoing mental health needs, to return to paid employment, or to regain the necessary confidence and skills to enter into paid employment.
A committee was formed and funding was sought from the then Health Funding Authority (HFA) and other sources, to develop a project providing employment to client/staff in the area of horticulture.
On April 6th 1995 Earthlink was formally registered as an Incorporated Society and in August of that year began providing paid employment to nine client/staff based in Lower Hutt. At that time Earthlink was the first organisation to provide paid employment on a full hourly rate (aligned to the minimum adult wage) to clients.
In August of 1997 Earthlink made the decision to provide horticultural services in Upper Hutt. We followed the model of the original operation in Lower Hutt, while catering to consumer demand for horticultural workers and expanding client base.
In April 1998 the Earthlink Administration and Upper Hutt Horticulture division were moved to Upper Hutt and the Lower Hutt Horticulture division moved to premises in Naenae.
2002 saw the launch of the Recycling to Retail project. This project involved collecting items from the Silverstream landfill. After cleaning, refurbishment and electrical checks where necessary, those items were sold through the recycling division shop.
By 2005 the Recycling Shop had moved to a dedicated facility at 24 Goodshed Road in Upper Hutt.
In 2010 after consultation with Maori, Pacific, health professionals and other community groups, Earthlink established the Hutt Valley Regional Curtain Bank. The proven correlation between respiratory illness and inadequately curtained living environments had shown the need for this service within our community.
Our Curtain Bank is staffed entirely by dedicated community volunteers and stocked exclusively with donated curtains from local residents and businesses.
In 2012, as part of a “Silver Lining” initiative, Hutt City Council facilitated discussion between Earthlink and a major provider of corporate uniforms, which led to a pilot project to recycle or re-purpose end of life corporate apparel.
The pilot phase focused on recovery of end of life uniforms from New Zealand Post and Kiwibank.
A total of 40,200 garments were recovered from a number of businesses. Some 23 tonnes that would ordinarily have been disposed of offshore, into landfill or by means of incineration – A significant and unacceptable carbon footprint. New Zealand disposes of 100,000 tonnes of textiles annually. Textiles are the fastest growing waste stream world wide.
After the pilot project and with potential for future development, Earthlink applied to the Waste Minimisation Fund, through the Ministry of Environment and was successful in achieving funding support over a three year period aligned to performance milestones.
This project became an operational business unit of Earthlink in 2014 and recovered a total of 100 tonnes of corporate apparel by April 2017. With the ending of our funding stream however, it became uneconomic to continue this project - The business unit was closed in June 2018 - However a revised model was introduced in May 2019 with sales from our Apparel Shop and on our Earthlink Kids Facebook Page.
Earthlink adopted a triple bottom line policy in 2010 – Performance is measured not just in financial terms but also in terms of social and environmental performance, thus ensuring our core values are paramount in day to day decision making.
Earthlink has a governance board which provides oversight and includes people with knowledge of cultural issues, financial, business and marketing strengths and consumers with understanding of our core values.
Earthlink is contracted to the Hutt Valley District Health Board and Ministry of Social Development to provide support to clients.
We remain mindful of the need to strive for financial viability, with the ultimate aim of no longer needing government funding to pursue our work.
Annual Financial Reports.
Earthlink’s annual reports can be downloaded from the New Zealand Companies Office website, in the Incorporated Society register.
In line with our constitution and the requirements of funders, our financial accounts are audited annually by an external auditor, prior to filing with the Companies Office.