New push to cope with winter need | The Salvation Army

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New push to cope with winter need

Posted July 18, 2016

The Salvation Army is launching its first ever winter appeal as front-line staff prepare for one of their busiest times of the year.

Salvation Army head of social services Major Pam Waugh says the current depth of poverty – driven primarily by rising housing costs – now appears deeply entrenched as the Army continues to focus on helping people move beyond poverty.

“In winter, people’s needs are worsened by the additional costs of seasonal illnesses, cold homes, inadequate bedding and clothing, and compounded by overcrowded and substandard living conditions,” she says. “Parents are trying hard, but many cannot see light at the end of the tunnel, only despair.

“In response to this reality, we have launched a winter appeal, with funds raised helping meet seasonal demand for the basics of food, warmth and shelter.”

As the coldest months approach, Salvation Army social service staff are noticing:

  • Client families using pay-as-you-go electricity payment schemes going without lighting or hot water for several days or longer periods.
  • Heating the home is no longer considered a priority by many parents, leading to cold-related illnesses.
  • More time being spent negotiating with clients’ creditors to avoid power disconnections or eviction.
  • Some families are so impoverished they have no warm clothes or bedding.
  • Many clients can no longer afford public transport to collect food parcels or visit the doctor.
  • Doctor’s fees, transport costs and pharmaceutical co-payments prohibit parents seeking medical care for their children and themselves until it becomes a medical emergency. Some won’t approach a practice because they owe money or credit is not provided.
  • Overcrowding and homelessness increases unabated in some areas.

In response, already stretched social workers, budgeters and other personnel are spending increasing time attempting to help solve the most acute problems clients face.

Some centres are intensifying home visits, which often reveal disturbing levels of overcrowding and physical illness, with clients showing worrying degrees of anxiety and depression.

“Our winter appeal launches on 18 July. We’re hoping Kiwis will realise that winter is harder for those already in need – and do their part to help,” says Major Waugh.

Donations can be made at or phone 0800 53 00 00


  • Number of Kiwis homeless during winter: 41,700
  • Number of people who typically approach The Salvation Army for help each winter: 55,000
  • Food parcels we expect to distribute to families in need this winter: 14,100
  • Blankets, bedding and warm clothing provided to families last winter: 1,600 
  • Number of bed nights the Army expects to provide this winter: 30,600