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What Aucklanders can do to help the homeless

Media release
January 2015

What Aucklanders can do to help the homeless

The arrest of Chinese national, Chen Ming Xin, has been followed by a public urging from Police not to give money to beggars in Auckland’s CBD – which poses the question, what do we do when we encounter homeless people begging on our streets?

Kiwis, for the most part, want to help – it’s in our nature – however, social development agency, Lifewise suggest that there are more practical ways to help than giving money. “What we need is action, as opposed to charity,” explains Lifewise General Manager, Moira Lawler. “Charity alone won’t solve the problems faced by those who have to resort to begging. Instead what is needed is a committed response and a rejection of social and economic exclusion.”

As Lifewise advocate, it’s not about turning a blind eye, as ignoring the problem won’t help. It’s about more practical measures that break the cycle and drive meaningful change.

Here are Lifewise’s suggested actions for people encountering beggars:

1. Become an advocate
It is possible to end homelessness. But to do this, communities, social agencies, local councils and government need to work together to address the many reasons people become homeless, and to support them to get back on their feet.

Become an advocate for the homeless – speak up about the plight of homeless people in New Zealand, and look for ways that you can make a difference. Lifewise would love to hear your ideas for ending homelessness. Join the conversation on our Lifewise Facebook page.

2. Show respect
There are many reasons why someone becomes homeless – unaffordable housing, losing a job, divorce, illness, addiction, and mental illness all play a significant role. Many of the people begging on the streets today were struck by a personal tragedy and lacked a support system to get help when they needed it.

Smile and say “good morning” when you pass people begging or strike up a conversation on a park bench – it could make someone’s day.

3. Tell people about Lifewise and other services
By telling people about the services available to them, you could turn someone’s life around.
At Lifewise, the focus is on helping people get off the streets for good, rather than just meeting their immediate needs.

Lifewise’s housing team help people get into permanent housing, and support them to address the issues that led to them becoming homeless. Auckland City Mission and the Salvation Army also offer services for the homeless.

4. Donate
One of the most effective ways to help the homeless is to donate to Lifewise. Your donations ensure that the team can provide the specialist support people need to get off the streets - for good.

5. Volunteer
Lifewise is always keen to have volunteers join their efforts. Volunteers can lend an extra pair of hands, and invest time into helping our trained team, or perhaps lend their professional skills to projects.

7. Eat at Merge café
Lifewise encourages Aucklanders from all walks of life to come together over a meal at Merge café at 453 K Road. Here, Auckland’s diverse and colourful community can enjoy affordable food together or order delicious catering for functions. Because Merge café is a social enterprise, every dollar earnt goes towards housing homeless people.

- ENDS -

© Scoop Media

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