This Bay of Plenty bloke is doing something bloody special for other kiwis.
Scotty Harvey, who’s a registered social worker with Te Tuinga Whanau, has spent a lot of his downtime in the last three years parked on the side of the road, inviting anyone who feels like they need a yarn to come have one with him.
Scotty has travelled around the North Island, parking up in isolated areas next to his colourfully-painted 1997 Toyota Camry, with pitched signs around him that read “You ok bro, stop 4 a yarn,” and another reading “Your mental health ok? Come and have a yarn.”
He focuses on areas where people may have a longer wait or travel time to see a mental health professional, and his go-to spot is outside Maramatanga Park in Te Puna - where he grew up.
His car, which has ‘UOKBRO’ as its registration, has permanent markers attached so people from the community can write messages of hope to others.
Among those messages are suicide statistics, as well as inspirational quotes and messages of love for those going through a rough time. People have also written down the names of loved ones they have lost to suicide, and Scotty says he’ll take them on a “holiday” when he travels up the country in December, and will “have Christmas with them.”
Scotty’s going to leave Tauranga on December 16th to travel more of the country with his car and signs, to have a yarn with any passersby who may be struggling over the Christmas period.
He’s described it as a “journey to put smiles on whanau/ family's faces, but also listen and help anyone that needs to talk about their mental health, or that feel isolated over the Christmas break and have no one.”
He’ll head to Wellington, then hop on a ferry to the top of the West Coast of the south island, then Bluff and Stewart Island, up the East Coast, before heading to the West Coast of the North Island and back to Tauranga on January 6th 2024.
“Stopping everywhere with my two signs, my trailer, and my swag to sleep in. My goal is to connect with as many people that want to engage,” he said.
As reported by NZ Herald, Scotty started his ‘You Ok Bro’ initiative during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“During the lockdown, the Government said we all have to help each other but I thought ‘how many people will be isolated?’ So I decided I’ll paint my car and put all this stuff on it and not only will it put a smile on people’s faces but it will help them to realise you can get through it, no matter what, or that overthinking can [be] stopped,” he said.
“I do it because mental health doesn’t stop on a Friday at 5pm and start back on a Monday at 9am, so instead of whanau having to wait, they can just drive past and think, ‘yes I need a yarn,’ and it’s happening. There’s a lot of engagement with people stopping, asking what I’m doing and just talking.”
What an absolute legend of a bloke.
If you wanna support Scotty in his journey around the country, he’s set up a Give A Little to help with the cost of petrol to cover 3000kms, a return ferry ticket, and tyres incase any of his go flat. Check out the give a little here.
If you or someone you know is struggling, we got you. You can check out a bunch of resources that'll help here.