New ser­vice of­fers wel­fare ad­vice

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

A new ser­vice is of­fer­ing ‘‘top of the cliff’’ ad­vice to peo­ple who might be find­ing it hard to nav­i­gate the of­ten com­plex so­cial wel­fare sys­tem.

Ben­e­fi­cia­ries Ad­vice Mt Al­bert (BAMA) is a joint ini­tia­tive of St Luke’s Angli­can Church and Mt Al­bert Methodist Church to help peo­ple with the process of get­ting as­sis­tance from Work and In­come.

‘‘Peo­ple need help for all sorts of rea­sons – they might lose a job, or some­one be­comes ill in the fam­ily,’’ St Lukes’ Rev Clare Bar­rie says.

‘‘All of a sud­den they need help and it’s not very easy to ac­cess

‘‘For a lot of peo­ple ap­proach­ing WINZ can be really threat­en­ing and con­fus­ing and if they have never been there be­fore it can really help to have some­one there be­side them to help sort out the wrin­kles that might hap­pen.’’

Both Mrs Bar­rie and Mt Al­bert Methodist Church Rev Keith Tay­lor say the num­ber of fam­i­lies strug­gling to make ends meet is in­creas­ing in their com­mu­ni­ties.

Mr Tay­lor knows of one man who has three jobs to sup­port his fam­ily while his wife works in an­other low paying role at a rest home.

‘‘A lot of peo­ple don’t know their en­ti­tle­ments and nei­ther do some of the staff on the front­line. Some­times they might not have been trained enough and part of the ad­vice is just check­ing out what they are en­ti­tled to,’’ Mr Tay­lor says.

‘‘Peo­ple have al­ways ap­proached the church when they are in cri­sis, but we wanted to put some­thing in place to help at the top of the cliff,’’ Mrs Bar­rie says.

Labour party so­cial devel­op­ment spokes­woman Jacinda Ardern of­fi­cially launched the ser­vice.

She says groups like BAMA play an im­por­tant role given the com­plex­ity of the wel­fare sys­tem, but there isn’t any­thing else like it in cen­tral Auck­land.

‘‘We’ve put lay­ers and lay­ers into the sys­tem to try and cater to peo­ple’s di­verse needs, but ac­tu­ally in a way it has led to peo­ple not get­ting their en­ti­tle­ments.

‘‘It’s about to get worse with the new wel­fare re­forms that say they will sim­plify the sys­tem down to three ben­e­fit cat­e­gories, but I think it will ac­tu­ally lose the abil­ity to cater to in­di­vid­ual cases,’’ she says.

Angli­cans and Methodists in New Zealand have a covenant re­la­tion­ship and there is also a his­tor­i­cal link be­tween the two churches that goes back to the to the 1800s.

BAMA is a part time ser­vice be­ing run out of St Luke’s Angli­can Church.

Photo: JA­SON OXENHAM

Guides: Jacinda Ardern, left, Clare Bar­rie and Keith Tay­lor hope the Ben­e­fi­cia­ries Ad­vice Mt Al­bert ser­vice will help smooth the process for peo­ple need­ing as­sis­tance from Work and In­come.

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