Marginal income families feel the pain
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.
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.