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Wellington Mayor roughing it for a good cause

6 October 2015

Wellington Mayor roughing it for a good cause

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown will sleep in a cardboard box on Friday night (9 October) to raise awareness of the needs of the city’s homeless as part of a 14 hour fundraising project being run by community groups working with the homeless.

Five community organisations are collaborating under the Wellington City Council’s Te Mahana initiative to help people into their own homes through the 14 hour homeless fundraiser which involved teams of three to five people sleeping in either cardboard boxes, on couches, or in a car. Registrations have now reached capacity and have closed.

Mayor Wade-Brown says there is a need to provide assistance for people who get overwhelmed by life’s challenges and end up in need of temporary overnight accommodation, food, and support.

“The agencies involved are all doing a wonderful job but they need resources including funds to support people in need,” she says.

The Mayor urged the community to support the fundraising activity to boost funding for the needs of homeless people in the city. Information about donating to the causes is available at 14hourshomeless.org.nz/event/wgtn

“For the first time the agencies who provide the services – Downtown Community Ministry (DCM), The Salvation Army ,the Soup Kitchen, Wellington Homeless Women’s Trust and the Wellington Night Shelter, – are working together in a community initiative that will help support people to find housing, manage their money, access health services and connect with family,” Mayor Wade-Brown says.

The organisations work with hundreds of people each year who are sleeping rough, staying in overnight emergency accommodation, temporarily with family or friends, or living in dilapidated or unsafe dwellings. They also focus on the large number of people who are at risk of homelessness.

Community Engagement Manager for Wellington City Council, Jenny Rains, says the agencies are working with many individuals and families who are living on the verge of homelessness through high rents versus low incomes, incurring debt just to get by, relationship breakdowns, domestic violence, poor mental and physical health, and a myriad of other causes.

“Without a stable home, a person’s physical and mental health and spirit declines greatly and they are at a huge disadvantage when it comes to getting an income and re-establishing themselves,” she says.

According to a Ministry of Health report using 2013 census data, more than 35,000 people in greater Wellington are living in crowded conditions.

The fundraising projects as part of 14 Hour Homeless are:

• Downtown Community Ministry which each year works with some 850 people, most of whom meet the New Zealand definition of homelessness or are at risk of homelessness. At DCM’s Te Hāpai service, people have opportunities to participate in recovery-focused programmes, and are supported to find housing, manage their money, access health services, and connect with whānau and their cultural roots.

• The Salvation Army will be fundraising for its two emergency homes for homeless youth aged from 15 years – the only service of its kind in the region. Many young clients are estranged from their families, some are struggling with addiction or dealing with the after-effects of abuse or bullying. To help guide these young people to employment and long-term independent living, they are assisted with budgeting and household management skills and developing job search and interview skills. The homes receive no government funding.

• Wellington Night Shelter provides emergency accommodation and practical and social services to around 280 men a year, assisting some 60 into permanent accommodation. Preparing a homeless person to adapt to their new life can be expensive. Wellington Night Shelter will be raising funds for this work.

• The Wellington Homeless Women’s Trust specialises in providing temporary accommodation for women and supporting many into stable accommodation. The trust works with women ranging from mothers wanting to build stable and independent lives for their families through to elderly women.

• The Soup Kitchen, founded by the Sisters of Compassion, has been serving Wellington’s poor for 113 years. The Soup Kitchen seeks to provide support to people in need, which includes those who are marginalised through such things as mental health issues, addictions, homelessness and poverty. The Soup Kitchen will be raising funds to support guest participation in the wider community and engagement in meaningful and productive activities. These activities include a community garden, computer hub that provides internet access and IT training for clients and cooking lessons.

14 Hours Homeless is run to support and raise awareness of World Homeless Day which occurs on 10 Octoberevery year. Read more about World Homeless Day at www.worldhomelessday.org/


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