The words above, quoted from a Salvation Army senior staff member, epitomise our plea to New Zealanders facing new forms of vulnerability, hardship and complex challenges due to the current pandemic. Two months have passed since we released our last Covid-19 Social Impact Dashboard, and we’re just under two months away from voting in our General Election and deciding on two critical referenda questions; therefore, it is a good time to release another Dashboard.
These are fascinating, transitional and uncertain times in our nation. After the intensity and uncertainty of levels 3 and 4 lockdowns, it would be so easy to focus on the economic challenges we currently face and will face in the future. We do not disagree with the importance of these issues. However, deeply connected to these economic and fiscal matters are the social issues and problems that existed before the lockdown and have now been magnified since the pandemic began or emerged in recent months. In our previous four fortnightly Dashboards, we tried to discuss many of these issues, including the spikes in our foodbank services, new clients using our social services, increased numbers seeking help for loans and debts, the plight of migrant workers in Queenstown Lakes and other regions, and the impact of the lockdown on our addictions treatment and social housing provision.
It is crucial that we focus on these social issues as we move towards recession, recovery and the General Election. In this Dashboard, we have a special focus on employment and unemployment issues, while still providing updates on food security, financial hardship, housing and addictions since our May Dashboard. Additionally, on this page is a snapshot of what The Salvation Army saw on the frontlines during lockdown, to provide even more of a context. Consequently, in these turbulent times, we believe the timeless words of wisdom from Proverbs 31:7–8 ring true, now more than ever: ‘Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy’.
Both the report and dashboard are available for download at the bottom of this page.