The Salvation Army is facing yet another year of high demand and is pleading for support to help crowds of people frontline staff see every day.
The Army supports 120,000 people each year, meeting their basic needs and providing other essential services, but is calling on donations from the public as part of its annual Red Shield Appeal to help even more people in need.
Head of The Salvation Army's Community Ministries, Jono Bell, says the number of people lacking basic needs in New Zealand is alarming.
“That is one in 40 New Zealanders. It’s astounding if you think of a packed stadium filled three times over with the number of Kiwis who are asking for help with adequate housing, food and other essentials to get by. This is what we see on the frontline consistently every year.”
The Salvation Army believes the answer to ending poverty lies in providing more families with valuable life skills.
“It takes time and support to break the cycle of poverty. Every hungry person who comes through our doors for a food parcel would benefit from longer-term help - budgeting sessions, social work or counselling.
“We supported 7,095 families in 2018 with social work, and if we had the resources we could help many more.”
The Salvation Army is calling for public donations to help it increase its services and make a dent in New Zealand’s poverty statistics.
“Our 70 Social Service Centres can only stay open for limited hours because we don’t have enough trained staff,” says Jono.
“We’ve seen families make great strides with our budgeting sessions. We helped 5694 families with budgeting last year. It’s these tools that people need to set them up for life.”
The Salvation Army provided 59,828 food parcels in 2018, an average of two parcels per family. In addition to this, 12,507 meals were served in the community kitchen. Community meals are often held weekly to provide nutritious food for struggling families and individuals, and to connect them with other applicable services.
Forty-eight per cent of total food parcels (28,969) were handed out in The Salvation Army’s Northern Division which spans from Pukekohe to Kaitaia.
“We have a lot of work to do in our northern community to bring this number down.
“Unfortunately, the reality is that for many of these people we can only offer immediate support which, while important, doesn’t get to the root of the problem ,” says Jono.
The Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal launched on April 15 throughout New Zealand. The organisation’s iconic shield badge, first worn by Salvation Army Officers who were supporting soldiers serving in the Boer War in South Africa, is now regarded as a worldwide symbol of compassion and hope.
“The Red Shield Appeal is a chance for every New Zealander to contribute in a meaningful way, to make a real and positive difference in their community. Our wrap-around services are designed to give people the tools to build a stronger future for their whanau, but we can only do this with the public’s support,” says Jono.
Donations can be made online at salvationarmy.org.nz/redshield or given to a Salvation Army street collector between April 29 and May 5.
2018 by the numbers
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Issued on the Authority of Commissioner Andrew Westrupp (Territorial Commander)
The Salvation Army, New Zealand Fiji, Tonga and Samoa Territory