Auckland City Mission is ‘maxed out’
Needy families are being forced to wait for hours for help as the Auckland City Mission’s services are ‘‘maxed out’’.
The charity has kicked off its winter fundraising campaign, Winter Warriors, in a desperate bid to cater to the growing numbers of vulnerable Kiwis seeking its help.
Chief executive Chris Farrelly said despite demand for food parcels increasing, the mission was unable to provide any more than the 13,714 it delivered last year. Meanwhile, staff members said they were exhausted by the level of desperate need pouring through the charity’s doors.
The closure of nearby homeless support services meant the mission was now the only provider of day-to-day services for the homeless in central Auckland, Farrelly said.
‘‘When families come in for an emergency food parcel, they sometimes have to wait for several hours in our draughty waiting room before someone can see them. Imagine what that’s like for an elderly person, or a parent with their young child? People don’t come here unless they have to – and they’re having to in greater and greater numbers.’’
The Winter Warriors campaign aimed to raise $300,000 to hire two new staff: one in the homeless outreach team, and one in the crisis care service, fundraising team leader Alexis Sawyers said.
The latest figures, from May 2016, showed there were more than 177 people sleeping rough within a 3km radius of the Sky Tower – 30 more than were counted at the end of 2014. On top of that, about 51 people who otherwise would have been sleeping rough were either in temporary accommodation, or patients at a hospital or mental health unit on the night the count was taken, Sawyers said.
The crisis care team mostly saw people who needed emergency food parcels, but often had underlying issues such as a need for social housing or budgeting support.
Farelly said Auckland was a ‘‘generous city’’ and the mission needed kindness and compassion ‘‘now more than ever before’’. While food donations were welcome, ‘‘our aim is always to help clients become independent of us’’, he said. Donated funds were particularly valuable as they allowed the mission to address the deeper issues someone was facing, he said.
Auckland City Mission chief executive Chris Farrelly says the charity is at capacity, with more people seeking help every day.