Step Ahead’s history began in 1983 as a pilot project that was initiated and originally supported by the Schizophrenia Fellowship. The project was established as an activities-based programme, with the original premises in the Christchurch Arts Centre. The mission, philosophy and goals of Step Ahead were formalised as membership started to increase . In 1986 Step Ahead became an independent organisation.
Step Ahead continued to evolve and grow throughout the 1990s. In 1992, the organisation became a Charitable Trust and the Board of Trustees became an elected body. In 1993, Step Ahead was able to purchase and move in to its premises at 167 Stanmore Road. Members were able to apply for positions on the staff and continue to do so successfully. By 1996 there were 180 members.
Due to a need for increased services, a Rural Programme was established in Kaiapoi in March 2000 and the initial part time West Programme in 2002. In 2010 a full time service on the West side of Christchurch began in collaboration with Comcare Trust who provide employment support. Membership reached 280 during this time, and staff 19.
Post-quake – Ongoing Growth
The Canterbury earthquakes in September 2010, February 2011 and June 2011 caused significant cosmetic damage to the Stanmore Road building.. Despite these events, Step Ahead was able to continue support members, providing consistency and encouragement during these challenging times.
Repairs to the earthquake-damaged Stanmore Road building were completed in 2012.
Membership numbers have now grown to between 300 and 320 across all bases.