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Poverty levels critical as new families seek help

23 Apr | 2018

Poverty levels critical as 336 new families seek help each week
  • Core basics being sacrificed as 40 per cent of Kiwi families experience food insecurity

  • 100,000 Kiwi kids living in severe poverty

  • Working poor under increasing pressure as living costs skyrocket

  • The Salvation Army urges New Zealanders to donate during Red Shield Appeal

 

The cost of living in New Zealand is the cause of a new wave of poverty, say senior officers from The Salvation Army.

Last year, The Salvation Army saw 336 new families every week, raising alarm and putting strain on the ability to keep up with demand as the organisation seeks public support ahead of its annual Red Shield Appeal.

Rents, petrol prices and basic food costs continue to rise, with those with the most pressing needs worst affected, says head of welfare services Major Pam Waugh.

“It’s fast becoming a national crisis.”

In the past calendar year, sixty per cent of families requesting help with basics from the Army were new to the organisation - an average of 336 families every week.

“These are people who have never before used our services, and part of the 120,000 New Zealanders we already help every year,” says Major Waugh.

Compounding this, one in five New Zealand children live in poverty and half of them—about 100,000 children—live in severe poverty meaning they lack the basics required to grow up safe, healthy and happy.

Major Waugh says there are misconceptions about people living in poverty in this country - that they are all on benefits, have large families and are often solo parents – but the stats disprove this misunderstanding.

“In 40 per cent of families in poverty in New Zealand, at least one person is in full-time employment.”

Major Waugh says poverty in New Zealand is often behind closed doors, which makes it not always easy to see.

“We haven’t seen this level of need since the recession. We are not a third world nation, but we have the highest levels of homelessness in the OECD.

“The trouble is we’re not always confronted with this poverty. Families may not look hungry, but forty per cent of Kiwi families skip meals or cut back on food, because they can’t afford enough for the week,” says Major Waugh.

The Salvation Army is asking New Zealanders to join it in helping to end poverty for these families by supporting its annual Red Shield Appeal starting next week.

“We see these people, we hear their stories and we help them to make meaningful change. Giving to the Red Shield Appeal is a way to directly help these families thrive,” Major Waugh says.

 

To support The Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal:

Visit salvationarmy.org.nz

Give to a Salvation Army street collector between 30 April - 6 May

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Issued on the Authority of Commissioner Andrew Westrupp (Territorial Commander)

The Salvation Army, New Zealand Fiji & Tonga Territory