14 Hours Homeless Ready for Street Sleepout on Friday
Bankers and business staff will be among those sleeping rough this weekend to help homeless people in Auckland stay warm and get help.
The group, including staff from BNZ Bank and Smith and Smith, will be sleeping out in West Auckland on Friday 7 October for 14 Hours Homeless, a fundraiser organised by The Salvation Army.
Now in its third year, Auckland's 14 Hours Homeless even provides an opportunity for people aged 18+ to learn more about the issue of homelessness and raise funds to help make a difference for struggling people.
This year the teams are raising money to help buy a Community Food Truck, which will be used to take hot food, blankets and other essential items to homeless people where they are.
Salvation Army Community Engagement Manager Rhondda Middleton says the idea was to do something practical to directly help growing numbers of homeless people in Auckland. ‘It's helping people leave a footprint. They will have a part in making a real difference.’
The plan for the truck came after talking with people who were being assisted by The Salvation Army about what would best help them, Rhondda says.
‘They said, “Sometimes it's hard to come to you.” When you've got kids or babies, you're looking for a house or a job; it's not always easy to get to a place that's a few kilometres away. But when we go out to the community with food and blankets, we're reaching people who wouldn't get help if we asked them to come to us.’
Smith and Smith staff member Jennifer, who is part of the company team for the event, says she had her eyes opened after stopping to help some homeless people, while on holiday in the UK and hearing their stories.
‘Repeatedly there were hardship stories of normal people, like you and I, whose relationships had failed, people who could no longer afford the bills and ended up without a home. It made it feel very real; this could easily be you or me, down on our luck and not seeing any way out. Everyone I met that day had been helped by The Salvation Army. Wherever we are in the world, there are people that need our help.’
Recent University of Otago analysis on the 2013 census showed that 41,000 people (approximately one-in-100) were living in severe housing deprivation in New Zealand. More than half were families with children. Housing ranged from living rough or in emergency shelters, boarding houses and maraes, to squeezing into over-crowded housing, or living in rented or owned housing still woefully short on basic amenities.
According to the University's research, more than half of New Zealand's housing deprived are adults working or studying, or both. More than half are under 25, and Pasifika New Zealanders are 10 times more likely to be homeless than European New Zealanders.
14 Hours Homeless Events are also being held in Napier, Palmerston North, Wellington and Invercargill.