Simulata Pope is passionate about the rights of rangatahi.
Hailing from South Auckland, Simulata works for VOYCE - an independent NGO that exists to amplify the voices of children in care. About 2,700 people are currently in care in Tāmaki Makaurau, the most condensed ratio of young people in care in Aotearoa. This includes three youth justice centres and 40 group homes.
A key part of Simualta’s role is to amplify the voices of people aged 0 to 25 in the care system. She believes that experiencing the care system takes a toll on wellbeing and mental health, and it’s important to have people working to validate you and try to make sure you get the same opportunities and care as everyone else. “When you’re in care and you’re still a kid, you’re having to grow up too fast.”
Simulata’s dedication to rangatahi started at an early age. “I have always been passionate about young people. My father is a youth worker and youth pastor and my mum is a social worker, and as a family we’ve been a foster-giving family. At a young age I was exposed to mental health and courageous conversations with young people about not feeling okay - I knew that and grew up with that.”
In addition to her full-time job at VOYCE, Simulata uses her skills, passion and experience to volunteer with collective advocacy group Manaaki Rangatahi, who work to hold the government accountable for the spaces they create for homeless youth.