Mar­ginal in­come fam­i­lies feel the pain

Central Leader - - News - By Janie Smith

With liv­ing costs ris­ing, many fam­i­lies are strug­gling to pro­vide the ba­sics for their fam­i­lies.

Which means there’s lit­tle or noth­ing left to give when char­i­ties come call­ing.

For the Auck­land City Mis­sion, the eco­nomic down­turn has been es­pe­cially dif­fi­cult.

The need for ser­vices has in­creased by 21 per­cent, par­tic­u­larly in food parcels.

But win­ter ap­peal do­na­tions were down 10 per­cent com­pared with the same time last year.

City mis­sioner Diane Robert­son says smaller gifts of $25 or less have dropped off the most.

“Maybe it’s the mid­dlein­come fam­i­lies who are re­ally feel­ing the pinch with in­creased prices and mortgages.”

The mis­sion has a food­bank and also dis­trib­utes goods to 70 other banks around Auck­land.

“We have to con­stantly re­view our costs and cut back where we pos­si­bly can.”

She says so­cial work­ers and front­line work­ers are im­por­tant, and costs are cut in ar­eas like ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“Peo­ple are still be­ing gen­er­ous and sup­port­ing us – they are just find­ing it harder to do so.

“Quite a few of our donors have left to live in Aus­tralia.”

Reg­u­lar donors have also asked to be taken off the donor list be­cause they can’t af­ford it any­more, says Ms Robert­son.

The mis­sion gets some gov­ern­ment fund­ing but re­lies on do­na­tions to aid its work.

Kid­sCan, which pro­vides food and cloth­ing for school chil­dren who go without, has also no­ticed an in­crease in need for its ser­vices.

The char­ity pro­vides 240,000 meals a year for chil­dren who go to school hun­gry.

Gen­eral man­ager

Julie Hel­son says it could dou­ble that num­ber if it had enough fund­ing.

“Peo­ple are able to give less, but the im­pact on us is not so much do­na­tions as the de­mand for our ser­vice.”

Kid­sCan ser­vices 91 schools around the coun­try and has an­other 100 schools on the wait­ing list.

“That’s 20,000 kids go­ing to school cold, wet and hun­gry,” she says.

“It def­i­nitely has a lot to do with the eco­nomic cli­mate. Peo­ple just sim­ply can’t af­ford to make ends meet,” says Ms Hel­son.

Even some mid­dle-in­come fam­i­lies who were just get­ting by are now strug­gling to pro­vide food and cloth­ing, she says.

“It’s start­ing to hit the higher decile schools. We would like to see the gov­ern­ment play a part in ad­dress­ing the is­sue.”

She says they don’t ex­pect the gov­ern­ment to fund the whole pro­gramme, but would ap­pre­ci­ate as­sis­tance to meet de­mand.

“We would like New Zealan­ders who can help to do so.”

Kid­sCan runs a pro­gramme called In Our Own Back­yard, where peo­ple do­nate $10 a month to pro­vide a child with food at school, shoes, two pairs of socks and a rain­coat.

Knit World has also started a pro­gramme with vol- un­teers knit­ting bean­ies to give to chil­dren at Kid­sCan part­ner schools.

Knit­ters around the coun­try made 17,000 bean­ies which were handed out to keep youngsters warm.

But de­spite the in­crease in needy New Zealan­ders, sup­port is still strong for de­vel­op­ing coun­tries and the en­vi­ron­ment.

World Vi­sion spokes­woman Tennille Ber­gin says she is not ex­pect­ing a drop-off in do­na­tions and child spon­sors, de­spite ris­ing liv­ing costs.

“At the mo­ment we have an ap­peal looking at ris­ing food prices and how they are af­fect­ing those on the bread­line. It’s hav­ing a good re­sponse so far.

“Peo­ple tend to recog­nise we are deal­ing with peo­ple a lot worse off.”

Green­peace fundrais­ing di­rec­tor Amanda Brig­gsHastie says there has been no neg­a­tive im­pact from the econ­omy so far.

“To some ex­tent, it’s gone the other way. We’re get­ting a lit­tle bit more sup­port from peo­ple.”

New mem­bers are still join­ing up to help the planet and its wildlife and Green­peace has a long-term donor base.

She says high petrol prices have en­cour­aged peo­ple to think more about cli­mate change and re­alise its im­por­tance.

Get­ting ahead: Kid­sCan gen­eral man­ager Julie Hel­son with some of the bean­ies knit­ted by vol­un­teers for kids go­ing to school cold.

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