Tuesday, 22nd February, 2022

A free, confidential counselling service has been extended to all staff of small to medium (SME) businesses in the Queenstown Lakes District.

Take Stock is an initiative by the Southern Lakes Business Recovery Group. It offers three free confidential counselling sessions through provider Benestar.

The sessions are available by phone or video call and can be as soon as the same day if needed.

Peter Harris, Queenstown Lakes District Council’s Economic Development Manager, said the service was initially available for SME business owners, but has been extended to all staff of SME businesses.

“We know people and businesses are struggling as we enter the third year of the pandemic. We are hearing that people are fatigued and they are burning out. I think everyone is feeling it,” said Mr Harris.

“Omicron has added new stress on business owners and their workers, and it can be tough to know who to talk to when those around you are also struggling. For those people who have never had counselling, it can feel like a strange idea to share your stress with a stranger. Benestar is staffed by professionals who are there to help you get through, and you don’t have to be at a crisis point to access this service.”

“We’re not suggesting counselling will fix everything – it won’t make the pandemic go away or solve financial difficulties, but in its small way we hope it can help. Our small and medium businesses are crucial, not only to our district’s economy, but to the wellbeing of our community. When people are stressed and worried there can be a ripple effect across whanau and communities. No one is immune to the challenges the last few years have brought us,” said Mr Harris.

Mr Harris said Take Stock has been offered specifically for SME businesses because many smaller companies can’t afford an employee assistance programme (EAP) for their staff, whereas most larger businesses have their own EAP service.

Take Stock is funded through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Recovery Fund and coordinated through the Southern Lakes Business Recovery Group.

“We’re encouraging people to take this initiative up now. We have funding in place for the next six months.”

The service is free and confidential, and employers will not be made aware if their employee takes up the service.

To access the service, call 0800 360 364 and ask for Take Stock; or email counsellingsupportnz@benestar.com and quote the Take stock programme; or visit www.benestar.com.


The Southern Lakes Business Recovery Group is a group of agencies which came together during the pandemic to support the business response and recovery.

It is made up of Queenstown Lakes District Council’s Economic Development Unit, Ignite Wānaka Chamber, Queenstown Chamber of Commerce, Destination Queenstown and Lake Wānaka Tourism.