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What Stops People Moving Out of Poverty

What Stops People Moving Out of Poverty

Speaking For Ourselves is the title of a new report drawn from ground-breaking research that follows 100 families for one year. The families are long-term users of the Auckland City Mission’s food bank and have contributed their experience of what it is like to live in and to try to move out of poverty.

“We undertook this research to find answers to the questions around why families remain in poverty,” explains Diane Robertson, CEO of Auckland City Mission. “What we found was “Speaking For Ourselves” documents how the very agencies set up to support families in poverty can actually contribute to their entrapment in a state of constant financial hardship.

“While it is widely known than 280,000 New Zealand children live in poverty, this research is focused on the wider families in which these children live. Our findings have helped us gain a deeper understanding of the lives of participating families, which has led us to changing the way we provide our services in order to better meet their needs,” continues Robertson.

The research was designed by the Auckland City Mission in collaboration with researchers from the University of Auckland, Massey University and Waikato University and is the first to engage New Zealand families is a sustained dialogue about their experiences of living in long-term hardship.

“Some findings we were well aware of, including the fact that poor people want to work and that poor housing makes people sick. But what we did not anticipate learning is the extent to which those in hardship pay a ‘poverty premium’ for virtually every service they purchase, or the degree to which staggeringly high personal debt, much of it taken on to cover day-to-day expenses, works to keep families trapped in a cycle of depravation,” explains Robertson.

Additional findings include that contrary to the myth, many living in poverty are excellent budgeters. Yet food is frequently the first thing that people must do without. Speaking For Ourselves provides a fresh look into the lives of families living in hardship and provides a medium to tell their stories.e believe needs to change so that they stand a reasonable chance of freeing themselves from poverty.

“We want to start a lively conversation around how we can all contribute to helping families move out of poverty and this includes social service agencies, financial institutions, key service providers such as utilities, employers and tertiary and training institutions. We all have a big role to play in providing solutions as well as a deeper understanding of how families in hardship live,” concludes Robertson.

If you are interested in learning more about Auckland City Mission please visit www.aucklandcitymission.org.nz If you would like to receive a copy of Speaking For Ourselves, please email pa@aucklandcitymissio.org.nz


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