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Working families under increasing pressure

Working families under increasing pressure

The Auckland City Mission echoes the concerns raised by the heads of both Blenheim’s High Schools, Karen Stewart of Marlborough Girls College and deputy Principal Michael Heath of Marlborough Boys College, on National Radio’s Nine to Noon programme on Monday 11th Spetember, that there are increasing numbers of families with working parents whose incomes are not sufficient to meet the most basic need of feeding their children.

Both schools are addressing what is an increasing number of students coming to school without sufficient food for the day with breakfast and/or lunch programmes and food parcels, and Michael Heath noted that it is the children of those employed in seasonal or contract jobs and those working for minimum wage that are coming to school hungry in increasing numbers. He also noted that parents working long or multiple shifts in order to make ends meet is having an impact on children coming to school adequately resourced to learn. Both principals commented that it is in these working families that they are seeing the most growth in need, and that their schools are increasingly required to take on a greater social welfare role.

Findings from the City Mission’s Family 100 Research Project, which followed 100 Auckland families living in long-term hardship over the course of a year, echo these concerns. Families accounts show that for many families employed under conditions that leave them vulnerable to sudden drops in income, or those employed on salaries close to the minimum wage, covering the most basic of day-to-day expenses, including school lunches, uniforms and required trips, was frequently unmanageable. Families participating in the Project spoke of being required to go without or take on crippling debt in order to get by, frequently despite having at least on parent working fulltime.

Diane Robertson, City Missioner comments “Workplace agreements that do not assure people of regular income can lead to situations where hours drop suddenly, leaving people without sufficient money to cover their expenses, while levels of income for those on benefits and working for minimum wage are so low that families are seeking charity in increasing numbers – we are having increasing numbers of families coming to us for assistance where parents are employed”.


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