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Homeless outreach service will be ready for Xmas



27 November 2006

Homeless outreach service will be ready for Christmas

Auckland’s first mobile outreach service for homeless people will be up and running in time for Christmas – a time when homeless support services are usually stretched to the limit.

Project Outreach was announced today at Auckland City’s national homelessness forum, which was attended by 200 professionals and volunteers working in this area.

The service will be run as a partnership between Auckland City Council, Auckland City Mission, Methodist Mission Northern and The Salvation Army. Auckland City Mission is the lead provider for the first year of the two-year initiative, followed by the Methodist Mission Northern leading the second year. All three social service agencies are providing financial and human resources towards Project Outreach.

“By working in partnership we can offer homeless people a future where there is hope,” says the Methodist Mission Northern’s executive director Keith Taylor.

The mobile after-hours service will provide contact and support to homeless people and rough sleepers within the central area of Auckland city. It will respond to the emergency needs of these people, operating 12 hours per week.

Auckland City Mission CEO Diane Robertson says homeless people are some of the most isolated and marginalised in our community.

“Currently, at any point in time there are up to 100 rough sleepers and an estimated 300 to 400 people living without permanent or secure housing in inner Auckland city,” she says.

The Auckland City Homeless Action Plan (2005-2008) identified a mobile outreach service as one of the strategies that could contribute to a reduction in the number of homeless people and rough sleepers in the centre of Auckland city. It also fills an identified gap in support service provision.

“Auckland City and the project partners see this as a practical and compassionate service for homeless people and rough sleepers. The service will increase professional contact in the community with these people who do not usually access services,” says Community Development and Equity chairperson, Councillor Cathy Casey

“Project outreach is another milestone achieved as part of our comprehensive local homeless action plan. By joining forces with other agencies we are maximising the use of the $40,000 a year which the city dedicates to this issue,” says Dr Casey.

The mobile outreach team will provide services including individual situation assessments, specific support service information, immediate contact and crisis referrals. The team will be led by a qualified social/community worker, employed for 20 hours per week. A referral system will be established with agencies such as the Auckland District Health Board, Work and Income and Housing New Zealand.

During the second year of the pilot, a review of the service will be undertaken by the project partners and consideration will then be given to the ongoing need for the service and the way it is delivered.

“We are doing our bit in Auckland, but there is a clear message from today’s homeless forum that it is now time for government to play its part by recognising homelessness as a national issue, and funding an appropriate national response,” says Councillor Casey.


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