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3,200 Women Queue for Hours for Food And Christmas Gifts

3,200 Women Queue for Hours for Food And Christmas Gifts

Women living in poverty are coming to the Auckland City Mission in overwhelming numbers this Christmas.

Since the City Mission started distributing Christmas emergency food parcels and gifts just under two weeks ago, nearly 2,700 people have queued up for several hours outside the Hobson Street Drop-in Centre for assistance. Of those, over 80% – around 2,200 people – have been women, says City Missioner Chris Farrelly. “By the end of this week, we’ll have assisted around 4,000 people, and 3,200 will be women,” Mr Farrelly says.

“Women carry the burden of poverty in New Zealand, disproportionately to anyone else,” Mr Farrelly continues. “They make huge sacrifices for children.

“Many of the people who have come to the City Mission this Christmas are women bringing up their children, and other people’s children, on their own.”

One of the women waiting in the queue is Margaret (43), who lives in Orakei. She has three children at home. Margaret works at a school tuck shop, but there is no work for her when the school year ends – as it has now that the children are on school holidays.

“I still have to pay for daycare for my two-year-old even though I don’t have work, because I don’t want my daughter to lose her place,” Margaret says. “So all the money I have is going to pay the daycare bill. I don’t want the daycare to think I’m taking advantage of them by not paying. But now I don’t have any money for presents for the kids or food.

“I’ll start working again when school starts next year but until then, I can’t afford my expenses,” Margaret continues.

Margaret has come to the City Mission three times over the past few years for food parcels, and this Christmas, she’s hoping to access a WINZ special needs grant to help get her through the holidays, as well as a food parcel and a gift for each of her children.

“I know people are driving by the City Mission and seeing people queued up, and wondering what it is we spent our money on, why we’re here for help,” Margaret says. “But you can’t judge anyone until you’ve walked in their shoes.”
Margaret’s story is not uncommon. “Women and children are in the queue here because they need food for their children, not because they are bad people,” says Helen Robinson, the City Mission’s General Manager, Social Services. “There’s a perception that people’s household food budget or food supply is inadequate, and that they’re not planning well.

“This isn’t the case – the reason people are queueing is because there is not enough income to cover the cost of food. They can’t afford to buy the appropriate quality of food that they and their children need,” Ms Robinson continues.

“The food supply that these women can access is of inadequate quality. So they need to rely on sourcing food from other sources, such as food banks. And the anxiety that women experience because of this inadequacy is incredibly high.

“The women who come to the City Mission are budgeters extraordinaire. I’m constantly amazed at their resilience. But they feel a high level of shame at not having enough food,” says Ms Robinson.

With only a week to go until Christmas, the City Mission expects to assist at least another 1,300 people by Friday, and the need for donations is critical because these funds help not only over Christmas but in the New Year when many people struggle. Currently the Mission has raised only a third of the $1.3 million appeal target, and is urging all Aucklanders to donate just a few dollars each to help a fellow Aucklander this Christmas. Donations can be made at aucklandcitymission.org.nz or by calling the Mission on 09 303 9200.

The Mission’s annual Christmas appeal is running until 15th January 2018.
• 80% of the Mission’s operating costs are funded by donations.
• The Mission needs your help to provide 8,000 children with Christmas presents this Christmas.
• Last year the Mission distributed almost 13,000 emergency food parcels to individuals and families in need. 4,000 of these were distributed in December.

Please donate to the Mission’s Christmas Appeal today at aucklandcitymission.org.nz.


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