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Churches Discuss Social Impacts of Recession

Media Release/ NZ Council of Christian Social Services
Friday 20 February

Church Leaders Meeting to Discuss Social Impacts of Recession

The leaders of the Anglican, Baptist, Catholic. Methodist, Presbyterian and Salvation Army Churches are meeting with the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS) and the Council's Maori advisors to discuss the local social impacts of the global economic crisis.

NZCCSS member Church leaders and social services agencies have become increasingly concerned about the impact of the global economic crisis and the deepening economic recession on New Zealand families.

There has been a steady increase in demand for support at both local parishes and at Christian social service delivery sites.

"Current unemployment levels are under 5%, however, forecasters are predicting this to grow to somewhere between 8% and 14% so there is a real potential for this increase in demand to become a flood", said Ruby Duncan, NZCCSS Vice President. "Church leaders and Council members are very concerned with the plight of ordinary New Zealand families who have been badly affected by job losses in these difficult times".

As a group the members of NZCCSS – the Anglican Care Network, Baptist Churches of New Zealand, Catholic Social Services, Presbyterian Support Services and the Methodist and Salvation Army Churches – are one of the largest providers of community based social support to New Zealand families.

Their work, allied with the work carried out at church and parish level, makes a very significant contribution to families and communities.

"NZCCSS is looking forward to this meeting with member church leaders and Maori advisors, we believe that this is an opportunity to organise and coordinate a sector of society that is highly compassionate and responsive to communities", said Ruby Duncan. "By being pragmatic and realistic we will seek to develop effective responses to the needs of those who are suffering the most as a result of the economic crisis".

Church leaders and NZCCSS want to meet with Government as soon as possible after the Prime Minister's Job Summit so the practical recommendations arising from their 'social impacts' meeting can contribute to policy development.

"Government, churches and community organisations each play their part in ensuring a healthy, functioning society and we are keen to work together to have common goals and plans", said Ruby Duncan.

"Society survives hard times, when there is community cohesion. It is time for solidarity, for rediscovering our human capacity for going beyond personal agendas, and the strength of being neighbour, friend, and colleague to one another".

In a major coincidence this meeting is to occur on 27 February – the same day as the Prime Minister's Summit on Employment.

"I started arranging this meeting last year and the meeting date was selected at that time, well before the Prime Minister's Job Summit was announced" said Trevor McGlinchey, Executive Officer NZCCSS.

"We expect to release the results of the meeting of NZCCSS member Church leaders and Council not long after it has been held".



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